Mnangagwa’s “Best Performing Town Clerk” in court over corruption

Stanley Gutu

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has indicted the Masvingo town clerk, Edward Mukaratirwa, for alleged fraud and criminal abuse of office related to two official vehicles.

Mukaratirwa, who is represented by Frank Chirairo, appeared at the Masvingo magistrates court on Tuesday, 10 July 2024, and was remanded out of custody to August, 09, 2024.

According to a notice released by the NPA, Mukaratirwa is facing two counts of corruption.

In the first count, he is accused of having un-procedurally purchased a service vehicle.

“It is the State’s case that the accused person allegedly authorised the procurement of his condition of service vehicle, a Toyota Prado VX-L instead of a Toyota Prado VX, 3.0 litre engine which had been approved by the City of Masvingo and the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works. The Toyota Prado VX 3.0 litre engine was valued at US$109, 151 whilst the Toyota Prado VX-L was valued at USD251, 798,” reads part of the notice.

This means that the town clerk allegedly abused his position to get a vehicle that cost $140,000 more than the one that had been approved.

Public officials are allowed to buy their service vehicles at book price after a specified period.

On count two, Mukaratirwa is alleged to have advanced a false ownership claim to a double cab Toyota D4D vehicle allocated to the engineering department where he had worked as deputy city engineer prior to his elevation to the post of town clerk.

The vehicle that he allegedly claimed as part of his perks was, in fact, a donation by an international financial institution, the African Development Bank to be used for the municipal water and sanitation programme.

“Allegations are that the accused person misinterpreted to the Masvingo city council that a Toyota Hilux motor vehicle had been allocated to him as his condition of service vehicle yet the vehicle was given as a donation by the African Development Bank for the maintenance of water supply and sanitation infrastructure within Masvingo. Acting on the misrepresentation, the Masvingo city council agreed to transfer ownership to the accused,” the notice reads.

At the inaugural award ceremony for senior public servants hosted by President Emmerson Mnangagwa at State House on 15 March this year, Mukaratirwa was named best performing town clerk (pictured) beating Victoria Falls’ Ronnie Dube and Mvurwi’s Shelly Nyakudya to second and third places, respectively.

The occasion was meant to appreciate excellence among senior public officials that included cabinet ministers.

Mukaratirwa rose to the post of town clerk in 2018, taking over from the now late Adolf Gusha who had retired.

In the run-up to the November 2017 military assisted takeover from the late Robert Mugabe, President Mnangagwa vowed to fight corruption.

However, since becoming president, he has been implicated in numerous cases of corruption, particularly relating to tendering and procurement, but no concrete evidence has been provided against him.

This article was published jointly with NewsHubZim