HARARE – Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo yesterday defended Harare City Council’s recent decision to buy top-of-the-range vehicles for two senior directors saying it was noble.
Two weeks ago council resolved to buy two vehicles for town clerk Tendai Mahachi and Josephine Ncube, the chamber secretary.
The vehicles will cost the cash-strapped municipality close to $350 000.
Chombo told a media briefing at his offices the purchase of the vehicles is part of the contractual obligations the city has on the two directors.
“Do you want your mayor and his town clerk to drive a truck which is unreliable? He must drive a good vehicle which cost more than what other directors are driving,” Chombo said.
Harare mayor, Muchadeyi Masunda, who was present at the press conference, came out in full defence of the council decision saying Mahachi and Ncube are entitled to the new wheels.
“We must motivate our employees so they can do better, in developing cities. The capital city is the second-largest revenue generating entity from government,” Masunda said.
He however, said the purchase of the vehicles will only happen after council acquires a new fleet of refuse trucks.
According to council minutes approved two weeks ago, Mahachi will get a Toyota Land Cruiser V8 valued at $190 000 from Mike Harris and Ncube will soon be driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee valued at $117 000 and funds are available for the purchase of the two vehicles.
The purchase of the two vehicles will be done without going to tender — a possible violation of section 211 of the Urban Council’s Act which states that any procurement by a local authority valued at more than $11 000 should go for public tender.
The purchase also comes as Mahachi’s contract is due to expire after running for a closed four years.
According to his contract, it is a performance-based agreement which he signed in 2007 when Sekesai Makwavarara was the mayor of Harare.
His contract states he should get a new vehicle after every four years of service with a right to buy the one he was using previously.
He joined council in 2007 as town clerk on a four-year contract.
Masunda said Mahachi’s contract was still valid and due process will be followed if renewal was to be done. “There are councillors who are obsessed with contract matters, I am time and again requested by councillors to discuss Mahachi’s contract.
“They come and ask me —when am I going to deal with this director’s contract? It is wrong,” said Masunda.
Residents groups have threatened to demonstrate at town house if council does not reverse its decision to splash money on the new non-revenue vehicles. – Xolisani Ncube