Home » Governance » Harare Residents Bay for Chombo’s Blood

THE latest scandal rocking the City of Harare in which council management, fresh from a salarygate scandal, converted part of the US$144,4 million loan meant for water and sewer reticulation from China to buy top of the range cars for themselves has sparked outrage in the city with residents demanding the arrest of Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi and the resignation of Local Government Minister, Ignatius Chombo.

Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni told a full council meeting that council management had bought 25 top of the range cars for personal use with part of the loan cash meant for water and sewer reticulation. Reports say at least US$2 million was used to acquire the vehicles which include the latest Landrover Discovery and Range Rover models and Toyota Landcruisers.

Harare residents have reacted angrily to the revelations, demanding the arrest of Mahachi and the entire council management saying this was corruption of the highest order which cannot be tolerated. James Sithole, a Highfield resident, where water has been disconnected for the last two weeks said council management was full of ‘corrupt individuals whose place should be in prison.’

“Why are these corrupt people still walking scot free? This is a big corruption case which in any other country would see them rot in prison. We thought with this loan, the water situation would improve but it has only worsened. Now we have not had water for a fortnight and the sewage is flowing everywhere because of burst pipes and we have these people converting public funds to personal luxuries. This is unacceptable,” he said. Waterfalls resident, Gwen Shoshore, demanded the immediate resignation of the entire council management accusing them of being highly inconsiderate.

“These people are not the right people to be serving in those portfolios and thus should resign forthwith. Such positions are supposed to be occupied by individuals with the plight of people at heart. The cars must be confiscated and sold to recover the loan before it is too late,” she said.

Adding his voice to similar sentiments, Wisdom Nhakura of Budiriro said, “We cannot keep tolerating the nonsense from town house. Their corruption has gone too far. What worries us most is that we have got a ministry in charge of council issues yet we do not see any action against them.” Budiriro is one of the suburbs hardest hit by water shortages.

“Obviously the minister was aware of these developments and it’s a sham that we have such a terrible system of governance. Chombo must just resign, his sins are far too many,” he added. Municipal activist, Philosophy Nyapfumbi, who rose to fame when he staged a week long hunger strike at town house in protest over poor services from council in February, said he was preparing a petition to be presented to Parliament today.

“Right now I cannot pre-empt the contents of this petition but I will be presenting it to Parliament today. This council management should not be allowed to be in office for a day longer. This is just too much,” he lamented. Harare Residents Trust (HRT) director, Precious Shumba had no kind words for Chombo whom he said was behind the whole mess.

“What has happened here is that Chombo has created a situation in Harare where senior council management have become pseudo policy makers in place of the elected council in terms of the Urban Councils Act,” he said. In March, Chombo reversed Mayor Manyenyeni’s decision to suspend Mahachi and others over a salary scandal in which top council management were getting hefty perks against poor service delivery.

“It is evident that the Chinese loan will not benefit Harare residents much yet they will still have to repay the loan,” said Shumba.

“The HRT would therefore like to express its utter disgust to the shameless corruption in council. We will be engaging council over this matter to get their justifications.”

The Chinese loan was secured in 2010 during the tenure of former Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda who signed for it along with Mahachi while government, represented by Chombo, guaranteed the loan. The loan was meant for the import of machinery and equipment to refurbish water and sewage treatment plans. Most of the suburbs have been running dry for close to a month while acute water shortages have hit the country’s two major referral hospitals, Parirenyatwa and Harare Hospitals, crippling operations. This has resulted in unnecessary loss of lives as important hospital sections such as x-rays, maternity wards, theatres and renal wards have suspended operations citing unavailability of water. — Own Correspondent

Source : Financial Gazette