Daniel Nemukuyu, Victor Maphosa and Blessings Chidakwa
Harare City Council has been caught in a nepotism storm after it emerged that councillors in the city could be seconding their relatives for jobs in various departments, leaving a trail of similar names in the municipality’s employment books.
There is also an uncanny trend of a number of employees, over 100, sharing names with the opposition MDC-Alliance top officials, with indications that Harvest House may be unduly interfering in the running of the city.
Further, it has been indicated to The Herald that some latest recruits of the council may have been seconded by the opposition party as a form of payment for involvement in last year’s election as the party failed to raise money to pay its polling agents.
Harare City Council in February this year recruited over 772 municipal police officers and several others in the fire and parking sections.
A good number of the top managers and councillors share surnames with at least two recruits while in some cases up to eight recruits share the same surname.
Names that feature prominently on the list of the new employees include Gomba (Mayor, Herbert’s surname); Chikombo, Nyatsuro, Jena, Takawira, Nyandoro, Puzumado, Mwonzora, Chamisa, Marara, Denhere, Chitiyo, Mandere, Machingura, Moyo, Mukunguma, Munetsi, Mushore, Muzuva, and Mukora and Taruvinga — all councillors.
The recruitment has sparked outrage with some breathing fire over the involvement of councillors in the recruitment process.
MDC-A party youths benefited a great deal in this year’s recruitments.
According to a document by concerned stakeholders titled, “City of Harare Report on Current State of Affairs, January 2018 to June 2019”, councillors were heavily involved in the recruitment.
“Recruitments were done in violation of the recruitment procedure policy of the organisation,” reads part of the dossier.
“These employees were brought in by sitting councillors as a way of rewarding those individuals who assisted them during the campaigning period of the harmonised elections.
“Most of these newly-recruited employees are well-known political activists,” reads the report.
Two employees who share the same surname with Harare Mayor Mr Herbert Gomba — Tecla and Thomas —were recruited as municipal police officers.
Four others — Blessing, James, Tinashe and Rosemary — share the same surname with council’s human capital director, Major Maxwell Marara.
The quartet was employed in the municipal police section.
Although the link of the Jena family in council was not immediately established, people sharing that name were recruited at once — three in the fire section, three in the parking section and two in the municipal police section.
The eight are — Jonathan, Phillip, Andrew, Chipo, Jameson, Fiona, Jefrey and Aletta.
Councillor Wellington Chikombo of Ward 28 shares the surname with four recruits —Amon, Evans, Kilven and Sternford.
Two were recruited as parking supervisors while two were employed as patrolmen.
The MDC-Alliance top leadership of Nelson Chamisa and Douglas Mwonzora were not spared from the nepotism allegations.
The Chamisa family was represented by Caroline and Tinashe, who were employed as ambulance technicians.
The Mwonzora family was represented by Donven and Midi,a who were recruited as firefighter and parking supervisor, respectively.
Four municipal officers from the Taruvinga family — Laureta, Clever, Costain and Victoria — were also recruited early this year.
The Muzuva family was represented by Julia and Denver, who were employed as patrolwoman and firefighter, respectively.
The Mukunguma, Mandere and Nyatsuro families had two representatives each on the list of the new recruits.
Five of the recruits who share the Moyo surname — Farai, Conrad, Golden, Mduduzi and Sinothando — were recruited in the fire and municipal police sections.
Chairperson of the Human Resources Committee in the municipality Cllr Jacob Mafume said: “Recruitment of council is not done by councillors, but human resources staff. If you dare find one employee with a similar surname with me I can bet with you $2 000.
“There is not even one worker who was employed by this new council since our inception. If we had the capacity we would do, but we are incapacitated,” he said.
However, pressed further on the recruitment done recently, Cllr Mafume said: “On the issue you are referring to, we recently did interviews for firefighters and 80 nurses and 40 did not take our jobs. Those who accepted took the jobs on a temporary basis because we can’t pay them.
“There were also some firefighters we felt were necessary as we are in the fire season, but they undergo training before being employed, so it is impossible for them to be recruited on nepotism grounds, unless they have the required skills. We are actually looking at retrenchment because we cannot afford to pay workers,” he said.
He declined charges of nepotism.
Harare spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme last night said: “All the people that are employed in council are bona fide Zimbabweans with an equal right to employment. Council does not search for people’s political affiliation or lack of it.”
He added: “The recruitment process is very apolitical. Harare employees come from diverse backgrounds that include politics. When council employs, it is contributing in the reduction of unemployment.
“It is unfair and maybe lack of appreciation for a national paper to nit-pick on why innocent Zimbabweans have a job. The last recruitment was done before the elections. The recruitment covered general labourers and metro police. There has not been any similar recruitment after the general elections,” he said.