Masvingo municipality pursues US$137 000 bitumen conmen

Moses Ziyambi

City of Masvingo has taken to the High Court to recover more than US$137,000 from the directors of a defunct company—then Norton-based—which defrauded the municipality in a botched bitumen supply deal seven years ago.

In 2016, the local authority awarded the tender to supply bitumen to a briefcase company trading as Podilla Investments.

At that time, Hubert Fidze was the mayor and Adolf Gusha, the town clerk.

The company was paid all the money upfront and disappeared immediately after.

Online searches for the company yielded nothing.

As a result, council lost US$137, 666 after the dubious company failed to deliver the agreed 545 drums of bitumen despite receiving full payment upfront.

The issue drew the attention of the auditor general’s office that, in its report for 2019, noted that the council was yet to receive the 545 drums of bitumen despite paying for the product in full.

It remains unclear why the city fathers decided to pay the shadowy company the full amount ahead of delivery of the bitumen or whether procedure was followed.

The current town clerk, Edward Mukaratirwa, told NewsHub that they had resolved to sue the directors of the company in their personal capacities since the entity had folded.

“The company has ceased to trade so we can no longer pursue it as a legal persona.

“What we have done is to request the High Court to give us the right to sue the directors of the company in their individual capacities. If that is granted, we will have good grounds to salvage what we have been prejudiced of,” said Mukaratirwa.

He was the deputy city engineer when the tender was awarded.

He, however, would not name the directors but NewsHub has been told they enjoy strong links with powerful politicians.

Mukaratirwa told this publication that they had already investigated the former directors and mapped the properties they possess.

Fidze, the mayor at the time the deal was made, claimed he was not aware of the bitumen tender when it was penned and insisted he only got to know about it when he left office.

He seemed to pass the buck to the former mayor, Gusha, and senior management at the council.

Former town clerk Adolf Gusha

“I only got to know about the issue after I left office. I only read about it and as councillors, we were not privy to any such information because we did not sit in the procurement committee.

“This appears to have been done in secrecy by management and I was not aware of such,” he said.

At that time, mayors had been stripped of executive powers by the Local Government ministry under former minister, Ignatius Chombo.

Ignatius Chombo

Gusha, the town clerk in 2016, refused to shed light on the matter.

“I am a private citizen now, so get in touch with Murakatirwa (current town clerk),” said Gusha.

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