Mnangagwa’s Commission of Inquiry Unsettles Harare City Council Amid Contract Scandal

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HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s recently established commission of inquiry to investigate the operations of the Harare City Council has sent shockwaves through Town House, uncovering irregularities and contract issues among top officials.

The inquiry has revealed that several top officials, including town clerk Hosiah Chisango, have been operating without valid contracts. Human capital director Mathew Marara, a close ally of Chisango, has allegedly drafted a document to use temporarily while awaiting a formal contract. Marara has even appointed himself as the executive assistant to the town clerk, a position not recognized in the city’s official structures.

Sources within the council describe the situation as chaotic, with allegations of self-serving management practices. “This is one of the biggest scandals we have witnessed at Harare City Council,” an insider told NewsDay. “Marara and Chisango are running Harare like their own tuckshop.”

Efforts to secure a formal contract for Chisango have reportedly intensified since last week. Both Marara and Chisango were unavailable for comment when contacted by NewsDay.

Councillor George Mujajati, chairperson of the human resources committee, confirmed the validity of the allegations. “This is a hot issue in council at the moment,” he stated, while advising to contact Mayor Jacob Mafume, who was not reachable.

Reuben Akili, chairperson of the Combined Harare Residents Association, and Precious Shumba, director of the Harare Residents Trust, have both expressed concerns over corruption within the council. They also highlighted the government’s increasing control over local authorities, citing examples like the imposed Belarus fire tenders and the controversial Pomona deal.

Appointed last month, the commission of inquiry is chaired by retired judge Justice Maphios Cheda and includes opposition politician Lucia Matibenga.

The commission’s mandate includes:

  • Investigating financial management systems and audit compliance with the Public Finance Management Act.
  • Assessing the management of revenue generated through special vehicle companies and other outsourced arrangements.
  • Examining the reasons behind the failure to operate an Enterprise Resource Planning system for Harare City Council and quantifying any resulting losses.
  • Investigating the procedures for managing, selling, leasing, or transferring the local authority’s properties to private entities.
  • Reviewing the convening and adherence to standing orders and rules in council meetings.
  • Ensuring compliance with procurement laws, including the disposal of assets and adherence to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act.

The commission is expected to address any other relevant matters deemed appropriate during the inquiry.

The commission’s findings and the subsequent reactions from Harare City Council highlight significant governance issues and potential corruption within the city’s administration. The inquiry aims to bring transparency and accountability to the council’s operations, ultimately benefiting the residents of Harare.