FORMER Bulawayo deputy mayor Amen Mpofu has challenged his successor Gift Banda, who has been implicated in a million-dollar tender scandal at Mnene Hospital in Mberengwa, to step down from the post, saying he risked tarnishing the local authority’s image.
Mpofu said reports linking Banda to the $700 000 scandal posed a threat to the city council.
“I was so disturbed by the article concerning Bulawayo deputy mayor Gift Banda, who is somebody in a very high public office,” he said.
“A small dent on him can destroy his status and the integrity of the Bulawayo city.”
In calling for Banda’s resignation, Mpofu said donors could abandon the city if he continued to be in office.
“I don’t want to believe that Banda is involved, but for the integrity of Bulawayo and his reputation, I advise him to step down until the dust settles,” he said.
Mpofu and Banda stood on opposing sides of the MDC-T ahead of the party’s provincial congress and the call for the deputy mayor to step down may be part of factional attrition.
Mpofu has since quit the MDC-T and joined the rival MDC-Renewal.
Banda is cited in minutes of a report compiled by an investigating team on the Mnene Hospital scandal.
According to the minutes by a team investigating corruption at the institution run by the Evangelical Lutheran Church, tenders were awarded to Banda, Comfort Shumba and Ashton Mpofu without going due process.
Officials at the hospital said they did not receive bribes or gifts from the three although questions lingered on why they had been awarded tenders without following laid down procedures.
“(Procurement manager) Richard Dharara and (project manager) Wilbert Madenga from (Health ministry) head office, conspired with (chief executive officer) Noel Moyo from Mnene Hospital to produce authorities for riding on Chitsungo Mission, United Bulawayo Hospitals, Gwanda and Masvingo tenders, which were said to have been awarded to companies belonging to Ashton Mpofu and Gift Banda,” the minutes read.
However, Banda insisted that he was not involved in corruption at the hospital.
“When contacted about Mnene recently, I told your publication that you should ask the institution on the matter because I was never involved,” he said.
“In any case, how can I step down when the matter, which I was not involved in, is still under investigation?
“It’s coming from people who are politicking because it is said to be involving Gift Banda.”