The City of Harare is operating without key substantive office bearers. This situation benefits the corrupt councillors who then find it easy to manipulate bureaucrats without substantive authority. Officials in acting capacities always dance to the tune of the councillors, especially those in the human resources and general purposes committee, who authorise declaration of vacancies and advertise them. They also play a major role in determining, who becomes the substantive office bearer before the lists are submitted to the Local Government board.
According to council officials, the following offices are being led by people with acting mandates, thereby weakening council’s implementation of policies and programmes to advance service provision.
- Finance director: The last substantive director, Justin Mandizha, was unceremoniously dismissed for alleged incompetence after he introduced professionalism and closed the revenue leakages that had severely affected council. It is alleged that corrupt councillors and bureaucrats ganged up against Mandizha and claimed that he was incompetent, prolonging his period of probation, but he refused to bend the rules for them, preferring instead to go. Tendai Kwenda, who was a member of the finance team, was elevated to be acting finance director, only to be forcibly removed owing to allegations of corruptly benefiting from improper payments made to several other directors. Despite being on suspension, council is still paying him a salary and allowances. Stanley Ndemera is the acting finance director, but faces accusations of massive corruption and incompetence for failing to plug revenue leakages and set a functional billing system for the council.
- Human capital director: The last director, Cainos Chimombe, remains on suspension, and the City of Harare has not replaced him. Matthew Marara, facing accusations of massive corruption in land allocations and primitive wealth accumulation, is the acting human capital director. Recently he was arrested on allegations of being involved in illegal land sales. Recruitment of council employees must happen through this office. Without a substantive office bearer, councillors and other corrupt bureaucrats, especially the substantive directors, have allegedly taken turns to force Marara to recruit their relatives and friends, even though they do not have the requisite minimum qualifications and competences to deliver in their positions. Improper recruitment has resulted in between
2 800-3 000 additional workers being added on to the City of Harare’s payroll under the prevailing circumstances.
This additional workforce has left the council reeling from unmitigated pressure to pay monthly salaries to their bloated workforce.
- Harare water director: The last substantive director of water was Hosiah Chisango, who is now the town clerk.
Mabhena Moyo remains in an acting capacity despite having been confirmed by the full council some time back.
However, the Local Government board has not confirmed his appointment as required in terms of Section 123 (e) of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29.15), which specifies as one of its functions “to approve the appointment and discharge of senior officials”. Without substantive authority, Mabhena Moyo is constrained in terms of playing oversight over other engineers and managers in the department of water.
- Chamber secretary: Since the suspension and subsequent resignation of Josephine Ncube over allegations of incompetence and receiving improper payments without council approval, Reginald Kandemiiri has been the acting chamber secretary. Ncube was the substantive chamber secretary of the City of Harare. She has not been replaced. By virtue of being acting chamber secretary, Kandemiiri becomes a powerful member of the council management as chief legal advisor of council. The fact remains that he might not be appointed the substantive chamber secretary when the position is eventually declared vacant and calls for applications are made. So in the meantime, he plays according to what the councillors say, hoping to find favour with councillors when the time for the appointment of the substantive chamber secretary is due. Such is how an acting office bearer is constrained.
The Local Government board has not been properly constituted, and very little is known about it except that it is supposed to be established by the Local Government and Public Works minister. Unfortunately minister July Moyo has not established the Local Government board, and no record of its meetings are available in the public domain, yet it is sustained by taxpayers’ money. Is this deliberate on his part? Or he is just incompetent to do his job properly in a transparent and accountable manner? Either way, the fact that the capital city does not have key substantive personnel in finance, human resources and water, the minister is equally responsible. These are strategic departments of council. The minister should not sleep on duty. The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government and Public Works should play its oversight role without being partisan in its approach.
The Harare Residents’ Trust prays that Miriam Chikukwa, the chairperson of the committee, would summon the minister to answer to why he has failed to play his role in resolving human resources issues at Harare City Council.
Harare Residents’ Trust