Harare City Council Rocked by Half-Million Dollar Vehicle Scandal
Business Crime & Courts

Harare City Council Rocked by Half-Million Dollar Vehicle Scandal

HARARE City Council (HCC) is embroiled in a scandal involving over half a million dollars, as beneficiaries reportedly avoid driving the luxury vehicles to Town House to conceal the extent of the corruption, NewsDay has reported.

According to impeccable sources, 10 officials in Grade Four have benefited from the acquisition of luxury Toyota Fortuner GD-6 sport utility vehicles, each costing around US$70,000 at the lowest price.

This scandal comes amid President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s appointment of a commission of inquiry to investigate the HCC over various issues, including corporate governance, from 2017 to 2022.

The vehicles were reportedly purchased from a local car dealer. To avoid drawing attention, the officials have been discreet about driving these luxury vehicles to Town House.

This is not the first time the council has faced such allegations. Ten years ago, officials were implicated in another vehicle purchase scandal after diverting part of a US$144.4 million loan from China, intended for water and sewerage reticulation, to buy 25 luxury cars, including Land Rovers and Range Rovers.

The previous scandal was exposed by then-mayor Bernard Manyenyeni during a full council meeting in May. At that meeting, acting town clerk Christopher Zvobgo initially acknowledged eight vehicles had been bought, but later admitted awareness of 13 vehicles. The value of those cars was not established at the time Manyenyeni revealed the impropriety.

This latest scandal underscores ongoing issues with transparency and governance within the Harare City Council, as luxury vehicle purchases continue to raise questions about the proper use of public funds.

Yesterday, acting finance director Godfrey Kusangaya confirmed to NewsDay the purchase of the vehicles.

“This is a human resource issue, but they got the vehicles through loans. They have loans. People say what they want, but you can get our human resources department if you want more details,” Kusangaya said.

Human resources and general purposes committee chairperson, councillor George Mujajati yesterday refused to comment on the matter.

“I don’t know about the matter. Maybe you can look for council officials who can comment on the issue,” he said.

Council head of corporate communications Stanley Gama did not answer calls on his mobile phone yesterday.

However, sources at Town House said some workers in Grade Four were disgruntled after the 10 officials were selectively picked, thereby benefiting a certain “cartel”.

“Council secretly brought 10 vehicles for Grade Four officials. 85% of the total cost is paid by the City of Harare. The beneficiaries will pay only 15% that will be deducted from their monthly salaries,” a source said.

“They are not driving the vehicles to Town House because they fear that the other employees will know about the matter. We have a situation where some officials are parking their vehicles outside Town House.”

Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba urged the government to intervene and stop the rot at the local authority.

“Service delivery at Harare City Council has collapsed, refuse collection is almost non-existent, water supply is in shambles, sewer bursts are not being attended to, but we are seeing extravagant displays by council officials,” Shumba said.

“So we are urging the beneficiaries of these council vehicles to come forward. If they believe that they deserve them, they must drive them to Town House. When they report for duty, they must be seen by fellow council workers.

“Council district officers do not have vehicles yet they are the chief representatives of council at local level and they do not have vehicles to move around in communities and residential areas to monitor infrastructural development that is going on and taking place.

“I have been to district offices and they do not have stationery to talk about. They do not have computers, they are using their own personal money at council to buy stationery so that they can print.

“They have all the money to buy luxury vehicles for senior executives but they abandoned their mandate. We believe the government should intervene in a way that will put a stop to buying luxury things at the expense of service delivery.”

He added that the extravagance came at a time when council employees had gone for two months without reportedly receiving their salaries.

“Week in week out, council committees are hosting workshops outside Harare, particularly in Kadoma and Mutare. How long will councillors and managers continue to be inducted?” Shumba asked rhetorically.

Combined Harare Residents Association director Reuben Akili castigated HCC for wrong priorities.

“We have always said that HCC does not know its major priorities. What is the reason for buying such luxurious vehicles? This is wrong. We are not happy about that at all. We are demanding answers on why these vehicles were bought,” Akili fumed.

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