Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Government says it will not meddle in Harare City Council affairs following the suspension of acting town clerk Mrs Josephine Ncube and three other directors on allegations of financial abuse. The suspensions followed a report by a tribunal set up in February to investigate council’s employment costs compliance.
Harare Water director Engineer Hosiah Chisango was appointed acting town clerk and tasked with appointing officials to fill the void left by the suspended officials, who include human capital director Dr Cainos Chingombe, Dr Prosper Chonzi (Health Services) and Tendai Kwenda (Finance).
Eng Chisango was also instructed to write suspension letters to the three at a special full council meeting held last week. Mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni has since written to Mrs Ncube informing her of her suspension.
Secretary for Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Mr George Magosvongwe said the matter was an internal issue and was not on the agenda of the ministry’s scheduled meeting with Harare City Council on Thursday.
“We want to focus on important developmental issues. We want to examine the low-hanging fruits. The meeting with Harare is internal we are consulting with one of our local authorities,” he said.
Asked if the meeting he held with council also discussed the suspension of directors, Mr Magosvongwe said the ministry could not discuss Harare’s staff issues. This is not the first time Cllr Manyenyeni has suspended Mrs Ncube. In November 2016, he suspended her after an audit by the Ministry of Local Government,
Public Works and Housing revealed that council officials continued to earn obscene salaries after the Government directive to cut salaries was apparently ignored. This, the report said, prejudiced the city of over $550 000. Dr Chingombe was appointed acting town clerk but was sent on forced leave, barely a week after his appointment to allow for investigations.
Government, however, reversed the decision saying the suspension disrupted work at Town House. It is the same report which prompted council to set up a tribunal whose findings were used to suspend Mrs Ncube and the other directors this time around.
The MDC-T-led council wants leadership renewal at Town House and at his state of the city address last year Clr Manyenyeni said in the next six months the city would have renewed the face of council leadership by more than 50 percent of the team.