Harare suspends officials over attempt to fleece Econet cholera fund

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HARARE – The Harare City Council said Monday that it had suspended several officials, hours after Econet owner Strive Masiyiwa accused unnamed municipalities and retailers of trying to fleece a $10 million cholera fund set up by his company.

Strive Masiyiwa, founder and chairman of Econet Wireless Global Ltd., speaks during the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills , California, U.S., on Monday, May 2, 2016. The conference gathers attendees to explore solutions to today’s most pressing challenges in financial markets, industry sectors, health, government and education. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Masiyiwa, writing on Facebook, said: “One of the saddest things that happened last week when Econet announced that it had set aside $10 million to help with support to buy medicines and materials, was the number of suppliers, and even officials in some of the affected municipalities who tried to defraud our company by offering things at highly inflated prices!

“Gloves worth $3 were suddenly worth $65! That is just so pathetic!”

Masiyiwa, followed by over three million people on Facebook, said he had instructed Econet staff to “prepare lists of anyone who wilfully tries to exploit the situation”, adding: “After this crisis is over, we will go after them on this platform. Naming and shaming them.”

Within hours, Harare had responded.

The City of Harare said on its official Twitter feed: “Harare Acting Town Clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango this morning suspended some officials suspected of inflating prices for goods and services to be used in the fight against cholera. Engineer Chisango has since informed Mayor Councillor Herbert Gomba and relevant stakeholders.”

The cash-strapped government has appealed for crowdfunding to help fight the cholera outbreak which has left at least 30 people in Harare dead and has spread, with Bulawayo reporting that it had 12 patients now quarantined at an isolation hospital while tests are being carried out.


Masiyiwa’s Econet has been the biggest corporate donor.

“As soon as I heard there was a cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, I ordered our people to get involved: ‘Spare no effort to end this thing. Find volunteers, offer yourselves. Use everything we have – vehicles, assets, people, money’,” Masiyiwa said of their response.

Cholera is an infection caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacterium and is spread when contaminated water or food is consumed. The latest outbreak was caused by burst sewer pipes leaking their cargo into open wells in the suburbs of Glenview and Budiriro which still have housing units yet to be connected to the city’s water supply.-Zimlive