By Innocent Ruwende
Harare City Council has rebuffed compensation demands made by three councillors who were recently cleared of charges of flouting tender procedures in awarding a $13,8 million sewer deal to a local company.
Councillors Urayayi Mangwiro, Wilton Janjazi and Paula Macharangwanda were last year suspended over their alleged involvement in the opaque deal, but were recently cleared by a tribunal set up by the Government.
The councillors were demanding up to $7 000 each from council arguing that they had paid legal fees using their own funds.
The then Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere suspended the trio on misconduct allegations and appointed a three-member committee to investigate the matter.
At a full council meeting last week, the three through their lawyers argued that council should reimburse them since they were acquitted.
However, councillors rejected the demands with Ward 9 Clr Stewart Mutizwa saying the city could not accede to their demands.
“I think this matter is already sensitive but it is a claim we cannot accede to. Let it come on humanitarian grounds if council sees it fit to reimburse them but not on a claim,” he said.
Ward 14 councillor Alderman Samuel Chinyowa said the trio should seek recourse from the courts.
“We can’t be seen to be paying such claims as council. If they are not satisfied they should approach the courts for redress,” he said.
Panganayi Charumbira, councillor for Ward 43 said the ministry should reimburse the councillors instead.
“They should claim that money from the ministry. We understand that they are part of us but we cannot make a wrong decision because of that,” he said.
Ward 8 councillor Christopher Mbanga however, felt council should cushion the councillors.
“We know the environment, which we have been operating in. The injustices, which some of us have been exposed to. If there is a time that we need to unite it is in this case.
“The mere fact that they have been given their allowances means they have no case to answer,” he said.
Acting Mayor Herbert Gomba said, “They can appeal on that judgment especially on the part where it was said there shall be no order regarding costs. It is the part, which has seen us in this position.”
Ward 28 councillor Wellington Chikombo said the city was not being heartless but was guided by several principles that include legal variables.
“My brother Clr Mbanga was speaking like a catholic priest to say you can’t let others suffer in the society,” he said.
“Our hands are tied as far as this matter is concerned. It was hard for us as a committee to come up with this conclusion, but we were guided by the principles of legality.”
Following a lengthy discussion council resolved not to refund the trio. The Herald