Tribunals bleed Harare City Council

Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Harare City Council is losing thousands of dollars to tribunals appointed to investigate officials involved in alleged corrupt activities, with most of the commissions presenting similar findings and recommendations.

Residents have urged the city to handover such cases to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) or the Zimbabwe Republic Police if they have solid evidence against the officials. Recently, a tribunal which was appointed to investigate the alleged defiance by Harare City Council executives to enforce the Government directive of paying the highest earner $10 450 monthly, is alleged to have been paid $12 000 per member after demanding $18 000 each.

The tribunal findings were similar to that of an audit report sanctioned by the Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Ministry, which revealed that city executives continued to earn between $12 000 and $21 000 from October 2014 to June 2015. The five-member team, whose findings led to the suspension of three directors, was expected to carry out its mandate in a months’ time, but its term was extended by a further two months.

Council usually pays $6 000 for a month-long investigation and since the coming into office of the current council, several tribunals have been appointed, with findings of some of them having not been disclosed. Combined Harare Residents Association chairperson Mr Simbarashe Moyo said it seemed the objective of the numerous tribunals was to syphon council coffers and create the impression that something was being done about corruption.

“We have had many tribunals and commissions before and if you are to look into the findings and recommendations, you will be shocked to discover that they are all the same,” he said.

“Some findings were never made public. All we are told is that a tribunal has been set up, when the same tribunal finishes its work, we are not told about the findings.” Zimbabwe Urban and Rural Council Workers Union secretary-general Mr Bernard Dhanda said councillors should understand the laws governing workers’ salaries.

“That is why you see Harare Council always losing its cases against individual workers. Council must not be emotional, but reasonable and patient enough to avoid witch-hunting through costly tribunals, which result in workers being reinstated. The issue is that councillors are usually semi-illiterate and their emotions overcome their reasoning as they fail to differentiate between administrative and disciplinary issues,” he said.

Combined Harare Residents Association director Mr Mfundo Mlilo said council should handover cases of corruption to law enforcement agents than spend money on tribunals.

“We commend the city for undertaking the tribunal and acting on its findings since the individuals fingered have been suspended from work. We, however, urge council to hand over the file to the police and Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, otherwise these processes are worthless and a misuse of council funds. We would like to see the individuals concerned being brought before the courts to face justice,” he said.

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