By Debra Matabvu
A sizeable chunk of Chitungwiza Town Council’s assets was last week attached over a US$4,2 million debt — bringing service in the dormitory town to a halt.
Officers from the Sheriff’s Department swooped on Town House on Wednesday, seizing refuse collection trucks, graders, furniture, computers and other assets.
There was drama as some council officials tried to stave off the raid, with others carrying off essential equipment to various hideouts in the town.
A senior official — upon getting advance information on the swoop — reportedly drove an excavator from the municipal workshop to an unknown destination.
The Sunday Mail gathered that in 2009, the town council hired Nissam Private Limited to design and layout residential stands in Nyatsime Township for US$4,2 million.
However, Town House bosses failed to pay, resulting in Nissam taking the matter to court.
Council workers who turned up for duty on Thursday and Friday could only mill around in the absence of requisite work equipment.
Chitungwiza Town Clerk Dr George Makunde told this publication, “The US$4,2 million debt dates back to 2009 when Nissam was engaged for the design and layout of Nyatsime stands.
“They have taken all the service delivery equipment, including refuse collection trucks, graders, front-end loaders. Service delivery is literally down for now. We have, however, applied to the High Court to reverse the attachment.”
Chitungwiza Residents’ Trust Chairperson Mr Marvellous Khumalo said, “We implore Government to intervene as the town continues to sink deeper each day. Service delivery remains poor, and now it is going to get worse. We are really in a precarious situation.”
A council worker who preferred anonymity added, “Our morale is low as we have not been paid in a very long time. It has been months since we took home anything in terms of earnings.
“Now, this property attachment is going to make things worse for us and residents as well. It appears council is actually bankrupt.”
This is the second time in two months that Chitungwiza Town Council’s property has been attached.
In August 2017, seven top-of-the-range vehicles and furniture were attached after the local authority failed to repay US$600 000 to Metropolitan Bank.
The financial institution had purchased 63 000 square metres of land in Nyatsime for US$1 million, but double-allocations marred the process, prompting Metropolitan Bank to withdraw from the deal.
An audit report released in early 2017 shows that councillors and staff allocated themselves some of the residential stands at “discounted” prices — some as little as US$200 — and later sold them for as much as US$5 000.
Chitungwiza has many creditors and Statutory obligations of more than US$62 million. In June 2017, Harare City Council took the council to court over a US$7,2 million water debt. The Sunday Mail