Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Harare Mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni has pleaded with Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo to allow council to reimburse three councillors for legal costs they incurred while fighting the case in which they were recently cleared of flouting tender procedures in awarding a $13,8 million sewer deal to a local company.
This follows a decision made by councillors to reimburse the trio the money they spent on legal costs.
Councillors Urayayi Mangwiro, Wilton Janjazi and Paula Macharangwanda were last year suspended over their alleged involvement in the opaque deal, but were recently cleared by a tribunal set up by the Government.
The councillors were demanding up to $7 000 each from council, which they incurred in legal costs over the matter.
At a recent full council meeting, councillors rebuffed their compensation demands with Acting Mayor Herbert Gomba advising the trio to appeal against the judgment, which did not make a ruling regarding costs.
Ward 28 councillor Wellington Chikombo argued that the city was not being heartless, but was guided by several principles that include legal variables.
Ward 14 councillor Alderman Samuel Chinyowa said the trio should seek recourse from the courts.
Panganayi Charumbira, councillor for Ward 43, said the ministry should reimburse the councillors instead.
Ward 8 councillor Christopher Mbanga however, felt council should cushion the councillors.
Following the decision, Clr Manyenyeni wrote to Minister Moyo pleading with him to protect the affected councillors from the impact of the cost, which he said was brought on them in the line of duty.
Clr Manyenyeni yesterday confirmed he had written to the minister over the matter arguing that, “the councillors suffered financial prejudice during the course of their duties and should at least be reimbursed.”
In a letter to Clr Manyenyeni and acting town clerk Eng Hosiah Chisango, Clr Janjazi argued that council must cater for the bill since he was cleared.
“Following a legal battle between myself and City of Harare through the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing soon after my suspension on July 24, 2017.
“I incurred legal costs, which I feel council must cater for since I have been cleared of any wrongdoing by the tribunal set by the ministry,” read the letter.
“Up to May 2, 2018 when the tribunal came out with its ruling. I had already paid the lawyers $5 700.
“Amount due to the lawyers and yet to be paid is $6 858 as shown on the bill from the lawyers.”
Clr Janjazi said most of the money claimed was for tribunal proceedings.