By Blessings Chidakwa
Government has ordered the City of Harare to take direct control of private companies under its wings since they are not adding value to the local authority in their present state.
The private companies operating under this arrangement are Sunshine Holdings, City Parking and Harare Quarry.
In a letter dated December 16, 2019 that was addressed to Harare Mayor Herbert Gomba, Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo said City Parking had not been bringing any meaningful revenue to council while Sunshine Holding appeared to be a conduit for siphoning out council resources and Harare Quarry was operating at a loss.
“You are directed to make sure that companies formed as income-generating ventures, which previously had been sources for council revenue, are dissolved and the activities be carried out under the appropriate programmes.
“On that note, City Parking, without any investments, had not been bringing in any meaningful revenue to council and Sunshine Holdings seems to be a conduit to siphon out council resources. Furthermore, Harare Quarry (Pvt) Ltd demands payment upfront for material ordered by council, while it is being subsidised for making losses.
“This facilitates loss of organisational cohesion and creates a bloated support staff complement which weighs heavily on council resources. This administrative architecture results in the City of Harare failing to discharge its mandate efficiently,” he said.
The letter further reads that: “You are, therefore, advised to revise the city’s organogram, as a matter of urgency assigning programme managers and sub-programme managers in line with the adopted programme-based approach.
“The programme managers and sub-programme managers should be held accountable for the operations of their areas of jurisdiction in all respects.”
Harare Residents Trust director Mr Precious Shumba applauded Government for the move saying privatisation of firms had resulted in public funds being diverted instead of subsidising service delivery.
“This is always our position. We have been lobbying Government to correct the anomaly. The companies should be brought back to council as only a few elites including managers and selected councillors were abusing ratepayers’ money,” he said.
Mr Shumba said nepotism was also the order of the day following the privatisation of council assets.
“The companies remain ratepayers’ assets, a few councillors and some who are now legislators brought thousands of their supporters into council companies on nepotism grounds.
“The city is a public entity and should serve all parties. Harare should not politicise council, every ratepayer should treated fairly,” he said.
MDC Secretary for Local Government Engineer Elias Mudzuri said there is a possibility that privatised companies could have been abusing ratepayers’ money.
Eng Mudzuri said Government would not have given the directive to council out of the blue. However, he said the initiative should be done in good faith.
“I do not know if either the money was siphoned or not, but there is need for due diligence and audits to be made public.
“There might have been abuse here and there, but as I highlighted earlier on there is need for due diligence to those companies so that the situation might not be worse than the current state,” he said.
Harare spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme yesterday confirmed that council received the letter but refused to comment on the matter.
“I cannot comment on the matter since the letter has not yet been presented to a full council,” he said. The Herald