Harare suspends four top officials

HARARE - Harare City Council (HCC) yesterday suspended four top officials for awarding themselves “fat cat” salaries above government-imposed caps.

Acting town clerk Josephine Ncube, health services director Prosper Chonzi, finance director Tendai Kwenda and human capital director Cainos Chingombe were suspended after a special council meeting yesterday called to receive a report by the Justice George Smith-led tribunal that probed the top officials’ alleged abuse of power.

“Senior executives need to be suspended. After that we need the mayor to appoint a new acting town clerk and that person will have to appoint interim directors. The mayor should then speedily appoint a disciplinary committee so that they can be given a chance to be heard,” audit council chairperson Girisoti Mandere said.

Acting mayor Enock Mupamawonde said in the interim, director of water Hosea Chisango would be the acting town clerk.

“He will act in the position and will also be tasked with writing the suspension letters of the four. We do not need to incapacitate service delivery.

“Chisango will then be given the responsibility of appointing acting heads from people who are already in senior positions in council. These people are only on suspension and are not going anywhere until the process is finalised,” Mupamawonde said.

A four-member tribunal established by Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni in March this year started its formal probe to establish if senior Harare city executives, then under the leadership of Tendai Mahachi, siphoned money from the city by paying each other illegal salaries and allowances.

The hearings were closed to the public but the tribunal established a prima facie case against the four.

According to a Local Government ministry audit on the local authority, nine executives received unbudgeted bonuses amounting to more than $600 000.

It also indicated that 40 executives received education allowances of more than $800 000 as well as holiday leave allowances of more than $300 000.

The report also revealed that $282 000 was transferred into executive managers bank accounts from HCC’s Beer Levy and Estates account outside of employment costs.