Divisions rock HCC

February 24, 2021

TINASHE MAKICHI

The Harare City Council (HCC) has been hit by a power struggle amid an emergence of two factions vying for the control of the scandal-ridden local authority, Business Times has established.

One faction is said to be gunning for the return of suspended town clerk Hosea Chisango while the other is allegedly rooting for HCC’s human capital director, Cainos Chingombe, who is currently in custody on fraud related charges. Prosper Chonzi is currently acting town clerk.

The nasty infighting is threatening to rip the local authority apart, well-placed sources at the HCC told Business Times this week.

It is understood that the infighting culminated in the arrest of mayor Jacob Mafume, who replaced Hebert Gomba in July last year.

Mafume was arrested on corruption related charges.

It is also understood that the infighting also led to the suspension of the newly appointed acting mayor Luckson Mukunguma paving way for Stewart Mutizwa, who is the city’s acting mayor.

The factions are alleged to be using State law enforcement apparatus.

One faction is said to be leaking ‘manufactured’ audit reports to ensure the arrest of rival faction members.

Recently, well-placed sources said an audit investigation on alleged corruption around the ZWL$51m personal protective equipment deal between City Council and a company called Tyvek was leaked.

Business Times can report that HCC’s audit department has since disowned the audit investigation.

On the other hand, the other faction allegedly linked to Chisango has been accused of leaking audit findings and lodged a fraud case at the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (SACU), resulting in the arrest of Chingombe.

Due to Chingombe’s reinstatement as human capital director last year, SACU at one time briefly arrested councillors who constituted a quorum that affected the return of Chingombe before releasing them.

A tribunal report dated May 24, 2018 containing allegations against Chingombe was submitted to SACU and he is facing allegations of double dipping, awarding monstrous retrenchment packages and awarding top executives unjustified allowances. The tribunal report also implicated former acting Town Clerk Josephine Ncube.

A well-placed source told this publication that the working environment at HCC has become toxic to an extent that every day, there are daily plots and counterplots.  

The source said the toxic environment has led to the reluctance by some senior directors to take over the Town Clerk position including Chonzi who had initially refused to take up the post.

“The divisions at HCC have become toxic and since the arrest of Gomba and Chisango last year, there has been jostling for control of the town house. There are two serious rival factions which have resorted to using state apparatus to fight their wars. One faction is reporting its cases at SACU while the other one is reporting at ZACC,” one well-placed source told Business Times.

“This is the reason why there was discord following the arrest of Gomba last year where there was a mild clash between SACU and ZACC. This fight has claimed a lot of directors at City Council.”

Mutizwa said the alleged divisions were a creation of the media but admitted there was a need for unity at HCC to ensure effective service delivery.

“To start with, these are just rumours but as it stands I am the acting mayor and Chonzi is the acting town clerk. If there are any other fights happening I have never come across them and I have not been made aware. Those factional fights are something we are hearing from the media and as the acting Mayor we are not going to entertain any form of politics within the City Council and the main target for us is effective service delivery,” Mutizwa said.

HCC has been embroiled in corruption cases which have seen a number of councillors and officials being investigated for illegally selling council land and pocketing the proceeds.

Already, over a dozen Harare City Council officials, including former acting Human Capital director Mathew Marara, City town planner Samuel Nyabeze and surveyor Munyaradzi Bowa were arrested on a string of allegations that include criminal abuse of office and corruption.

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