LORRAINE NDEBELE THE Harare City Council is in a serious human capital crisis after running for more than a year without substantive management, a situation that has seen the local authority approving dubious deals at the expense of the ratepayer.
There are also concerns by observers that the government is failing to play its oversight role through championing the appointment of substantive directors in various departments at the Harare City Council.
An anti-corruption crusade spearheaded by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Special Anti-Corruption Unit culminated in the arrest of the former mayor Hebert Gomba, town clerk Hosiah Chisango among a host of directors. This move left the local authority paralysed as the directors are currently battling in various courts in the country.
A council employee who requested anonymity this week told the Independent that the government was taking advantage of the situation to railroad projects at Town House because of the absence of substantive directors.
“An example is what is happening at the Pomona Waste Management deal and in that case, the acting public works director would ask himself in what capacity he would intervene because he has no power to say anything against the deal,” the council employee said.
“This is happening in all departments without substantive leaders and that is why we have so many problems in the council including water challenges, congestion, uncollected garbage and everything.”
A corporate government expert Canaan Dube noted that there was no way Harare City Council would improve its services looking at the current human capital and operational situation.
“My view is that service delivery is the core business of the City of Harare, focusing on adding layers of management will not in any way improve service delivery as long as those delivering the service are incapacitated to carry out their duties,” Dube said.
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The absence of permanent directors makes council operations difficult as acting management is limited in making certain decisions.
As a result, there are certain decisions prescribed in the Urban Councils Act that require the mayor of the city to preside over and sign off at a full council meeting.
Another council source revealed that the government was using acting directors as a political strategy to benefit from it.
“With the current state of politics in Zimbabwe, it will be difficult to set up a commission to run the city as all the wards are politically represented by councillors and there will be no justification to appoint one. The local authority is also struggling financially and adding another level of management in the form of a commission is not rational,” the source said.
Efforts to get a comment from Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume were fruitless.
Harare City Council is on the cusp of losing millions in litigation following suspected bungling in the handling of cases involving the local authority’s suspended executives.
This comes after Harare City Council Human Capital Director (HCD) Cainos Chingombe won a labour case against the City Council Council where he is entitled to his salary dues and benefits in full. Analysts are of the opinion dubious decisions by sitting councillors have been the reason behind the chaos obtaining in the city.
The councillors are also divided on the matter.
There are also ongoing investigations on cases involving the current acting leadership on allegations of unprocedural and over-recruitment during the period between 2018 and 2019 that have prejudiced HCC millions of dollars.