Council, Education ministry in debt row

HARARE - The City of Harare (HCC) has failed to pay $400 000 to the Higher and Tertiary Education ministry in training levies, in a matter that is now before the High Court.

According to the court papers, the ministry is the applicant, while the City of Harare is cited as the respondent.

“In terms of Section 54 (1) of the Manpower Planning and Development Act (Chapter 28:02) as read with Section 3 of the Manpower Planning and Development (Levy) Notice published in Statutory Instrument 74 of 1999, defendant (City of Harare) is liable to remit one percent of its total monthly wage bill as training levy to the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef) on the first day of each month.

“In contravention of the said Section 54 (1) of the Manpower Planning and Development Act ..., defendant did not remit the prescribed training levy consistently on the first day of each month from January 2014 to the 31st of July 2017,” the court heard.

According to court papers, the HCC owed $418 707,48 by end of July last year and has failed, neglected and or refused to pay the money, despite several demands.

“Defendant has without just cause, refused to pay the training levy due from it thereby necessitating these proceedings and resulting in plaintiff being unduly put out of pocket.

“Such conduct on defendant’s part justifies an award of costs on a legal practitioner-client scale,” the court was told.

The HCC on the other hand has denied owing the ministry the claimed amount, making a counter claim instead.

“In terms of Section 279 of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15), plaintiff being either an owner or occupier of properties under defendant’s jurisdiction namely Harare Institute of Technology situated at Ganges Road, Belvedere, the Harare Polytechnic situated at Herbert Chitepo West, Harare and Morgan Zintec College of 1 Alamein Road, Arcadia, Braeside, Harare has a legal obligation to pay rates, water, sewer and other levies to the plaintiff.

“The plaintiff has accumulated a bill of $30 145,11 in respect of the property situated at Ganges Road, $384 999,38 in respect of the property situated at Herbert Chitepo West and $126 657,71 in respect of the property situated at number 1 Alamein Road, Arcadia, Braeside. The total arrears in respect of rates amount to
$541 802,20. Despite demand, the plaintiff has failed and refused to pay the debt which remains due and payable,” the court heard.

The HCC said as a result of the ministry’s failure to meet its obligations, it had suffered prejudice by continuing to provide services which are not paid for.

Responding to the counter-claim, the ministry denied being owners of the mentioned properties in its capacity as the trustee of the Zimdef.

The matter is yet to be finalised before the High Court.

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