Suspended Harare council directors' hearings begin

HARARE - The disciplinary committee tasked to hear the cases of four Harare council directors suspended over alleged misdemeanours has begun inquiries and is set to be through by end of February.

In an interview with the Daily News last week, Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni said the committee comprises independent non-council employees.

The four — Cainos Chingombe, Tendai Kwenda, Prosper Chonzi and Josephine Ncube — were suspended in December last year for allegedly being part of a 40-member group of council managers that benefitted from unsanctioned grossly high salaries and allowances.

“The process has taken a very long time considering that the four directors were suspended last year. The proceedings had a slow start but now the committee has started work,” Manyenyeni said, adding that “there was an attempt by two of the directors to come back to work on a technicality but that has since been addressed by council to their lawyers and they are not back at work”.

He, however, refused to disclose names of the disciplinary committee’s members, arguing that the measure was meant to protect the credibility of the process.

“The committee is not made up of any councillors. The speculation has been there are Harare City Councillors, but that is not the truth. Independent outsiders have been appointed to the disciplinary committee. Council will be paying them and while we are struggling financially, the proceedings are a necessary evil,” he said.  

In June last year, a tribunal led by retired High Court judge Justice George Smith was tasked by Manyenyeni to look into the city’s salary misappropriation after a report by the parent minister revealed such.

According to Local Government ministry audit of the local authority, nine executives were overpaid their retrenchment packages by $1,2 million, while they also received unbudgeted for bonuses exceeding $600 000.

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

Furthermore, the report also revealed that $282 000 was transferred into retrenched executive managers’ bank accounts from council’s Beer Levy and Estates account, outside of employment costs.


 

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