Elizabeth Gwatipedza

From Pindula

Elizabeth Gwatipedza moved from the Director of finance at the Town of Redcliff to become Gweru Town Clerk in 2016, after the 18 elected councillors had been suspended on allegations of misconduct, and a three person commission, led by Tsunga Mhangami, appointed to run Gweru.

Personal Details

No information could be found on her age, place of birth, or family.

School / Education

1990 – 1991 – Gokomere High, BSc Honours, Economics.
1991 – 1994 – U of Zimbabwe, BSc Economics.

Service / Career

2005 – 2009 – Redcliff Deputy Director of Finance.
2009 - 2010 – Redcliff Director of Finance.
December 2016 – Gweru Town Clerk.

Events

Acting finance director Mr Owen Masimba was recently quoted as saying council would engage a private partner to convert the 20-roomed mayoral mansion, which has become a white elephant, into a money-spinning venture. “As part of our planned capital projects for this year, we intend to enter into a joint venture with a potential partner to turn the mayoral mansion into an accommodation and events centre,” he said. “We have set aside a budget of $300 000 to renovate the mansion, and we have since flighted an advert for expressions of interest for the project. We should be able to hire out the mansion so that it can bring revenue to council.”

The council made the resolution to hire out the mansion four years ago. The project stalled after Elizabeth Gwatipedza proposed to use it as her residence, a move that was resisted by residents. Ms Gwatipedza said council was expecting to collect significant revenue from the mansion and boost cash inflows. [1]

Elizabeth Gwatipedza joined council in 2016 and was offered a modest package (US$2 752 a month) for her services by the Tsunga Mhangami-led three-member commission which was in charge of running Gweru affairs at the time, as Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere had fired all the city’s 18 councillors on allegations of misconduct during that period. 24 June 2017, all the fired Cllrs returned to office after being cleared of all charges. The Commission departed. , Gwatipedza insisted to returned mayor Charles Chikozho and the Council that she had signed her contract upon being promised that it would be reviewed.

Her gross salary was then raised to US$4 500 monthly. US$3 215 being basic salary, while US$1 285 was split in such a way that US$804 would be representation allowance and US$482 was recorded as responsibility allowance. Her new contract provided:

  • a vehicle of her choice for both business and private use and that the car “…will be given to her for free if normal retirement is attained prior to reaching five years”. The council bought her a Prado V6 at a cost of US$176 000.
  • “… the town clerk be provided with free secure accommodation with full free services to include electricity, water and all municipal bills, 24-hour security, fixed landline ie home phone, Wi-Fi, gardening services, repairs and maintenance.”
  • a serviced low-density stand and commercial or industrial stand at 10% of the cost price and she was given five years to pay for them. The sizes were stated as 2 500 square metres for a low-density suburb stand, 700 square metres for a commercial stand and 1 500 square metres for an industrial stand.
  • Annual holiday allowance of US$4 500.
  • Life and health insurance paid for by council monthly. If she died in council employ she would be entitled to US$9 000 as bereavement fee and if her spouse or a child below 25 years die, council was supposed to pay the same amount to her.
  • her spouse and minor children up to the age of 24 years be covered by a non-contributory funeral scheme and medical aid.
  • a clause committing council to give her assistance to build a house. Part of it read: “… that the town clerk be entitled to assistance with building materials for residential accommodation up to completion of the building at an interest rate of 1% above government lending rates to local authorities repayable over five years.”
  • tuition fees for two of her children and … other related fees in full up to tertiary level.
  • council bound to pay for her study leave and membership fees for a maximum of three professional boards and fund all expenses for her to attend annual conferences of the boards.
  • a laptop, Ipad and cellphone for “… unlimited use ie the cellphone airtime should be paid in full and (the town clerk) be given the items for free after using them for two years, one year and one year respectively…”

Investigations revealed that the councillors led by Josiah Makombe had failed to lay their hands on the contract since coming into office after 2018 elections. “We are not in possession of the contract of the town clerk. We have asked her to avail it to us, but she did not co-operate. If it is as you are saying, we are going to sit down as council and deliberate on the matter,” he said. One of the 12 charges for her suspension involves that matter and is recorded in the charge sheet as “Insubordination and failure to take lawful order from council.” [2]

Further to the employment contract that could not be found, it is also revealed that Elizabeth Gwatipedza bought herself a mobile phone and a laptop for $150 000 using council funds, according to a September 2019 audit. Gwatipedza allegedly acquired the items without the advice of the acting procurement manager, one Muumbe, who was reportedly well-versed with procurement regulations.

And many more allegations are listed in the article. [3] [3]

Soon after the salary story broke, residents took to social media to vent their anger on the package of the suspended town clerk, with some threatening to boycott payment of council rates in protest. Posting on the official Gweru Residents and Ratepayers’ Association (GRRA) WhatsApp group, residents questioned former mayor Charles Chikozho over the packages and demanded to know what motivated him and his team to sign the contract. “@Chikozho mayor and your guys, what inspired you to agree to such nonsense?” posted one resident. “As for me I will not pay a single cent to council. I cannot pay to feed one person,” posted another resident. Former mayor Chikozho pleaded with the residents who were fuming on the social media group: “The matter is before a disciplinary authority (and) am of the view that it’s not proper to respond … I don’t want (to) influence the proceedings at this moment.” David Chokore, the Gweru United Residents and Ratepayers Development Association leader said: “We have never and will never begrudge anyone for getting what they truly deserve. From the available reported allegations, which remain uncontested to this day, there is rampant corruption and general collapse of council service delivery.”. [4]

Gweru Mayor Josiah Makombe handed Town Clerk Elizabeth Gwatipedza her suspension letter on 14 October 2019. A special council meeting was then held to deliberate on the development. Makombe said the councillors had unanimously upheld the suspension.

Gweru council is dominated by MDC councillors and Makombe is that party’s Midlands provincial chairperson, while Gwatipedza is understood to be sympathetic to the ruling Zanu PF. Vimbai Chingwaramusee, Gweru council spokesperson, said that chamber secretary Vakai Douglas Chikwekwe is now the acting town clerk. [5]


On 17 October, Minister July Moyo said he was not briefed about the suspension of Gweru town clerk Ms Elizabeth Gwatipedza by the MDC-Alliance-led council. In an interview, Minister Moyo said he would look into the issue as a matter of urgency to ensure service delivery was not affected. “About the suspension of Gweru town clerk, I’m not aware of it, I wasn’t briefed about this alleged suspension and I’m going to look into it,” he said.

The suspension, without pay, was announced 15 October by Gweru Mayor Councillor Josiah Makombe. Mr Vakayi Douglas Chikwekwe, had assumed the post of Gweru town clerk on an interim basis. However he in turn is allegeded to have looted more than 4 500 litres of fuel from the cash strapped local authority worth over $70 000. A letter dated 15 September written to Mr Chikwekwe by Ms Gwatipedza alleging that he committed 84 counts of fuel theft after claiming more fuel than what he was entitled to.

[6]

  1. Gweru to lease mayoral mansion, The Herald, Published: 18 September 2019, Retrieved: 26 March 2020
  2. Suspended Gweru town clerk salary perks exposed, Newsday, Published: November 2019, Retrieved: 26 March 2020
  3. 3.0 3.1 Town clerk buys laptop, mobile phone for $150k, Newsday, Published: 24 March 2020, Retrieved: 26 March 2020 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Town clerk buys laptop, mobile phone for $150k" defined multiple times with different content
  4. Town clerk salary sparks outrage, Newsday, Published: 1 November 2019, Retrieved: 26 March 2020
  5. Gweru councillors endorse town clerk’s suspension, Newsday, Published: 17 October 2019, Retrieved: 26 March 2020
  6. Minister in the dark on town clerk’s suspension, The Herald, Published: 17 October 2019, Retrieved: 26 March 2020