THE Local Government Board (LGB) has ordered City of Harare to reinstate suspended finance director Mr Tendai Kwenda and resolve its labour dispute with another top official Dr Cainos Chingombe, the director of human capital.
In separate letters addressed to Harare Mayor Councillor Jacob Mafume, the LGB chairperson Mr Steven Chakaipa gave the directives on the two labour disputes between the municipality and the two officials.
Mr Kwenda and Dr Chingombe are two of the several City of Harare senior executives who have been on suspension for a number of years on various allegations of misconduct but continued to draw salaries and benefits from the municipality.
The unresolved labour disputes were straining council coffers as the municipality was being forced to pay the suspended directors and also pay those acting in their capacities while the labour disputes kept dragging.
Mr Kwenda was suspended in 2017 on allegations of financial abuse following a report by a tribunal set up to investigate council’s employment costs compliance and council was yet to conclude his labour case.
Last year, Mr Kwenda claimed US$2,1 million from council in salary and benefits which had accumulated over the six years of his suspension.
After his suspension, Mr Kwenda was later arrested on corruption charges and allegations of transferring US$70 000 meant for the provision of water, sanitation, education and recreational services into his personal bank account and later buying a car.
Mr Kwenda was alleged to have bought the Jeep Cherokee without the Minister of Local Government’s approval or a council resolution.
But the LGB said Mr Kwenda had applied the vehicle policy in operation at the City of Harare when he bought the car and should therefore be reinstated with full benefits.
“The Local Government Board met on September 10, 2022 and deliberated on council application to discharge the director of finance Mr Tendai Kwenda.
“The Board noted that Mr Tendai Kwenda applied the vehicle policy that was in operation at City of Harare and consequently turned down council application to discharge him.
“Accordingly, the Board through Resolution Number LGB12/ 2022 decided that council reinstate Mr Tendai Kwenda with full benefits,” wrote Mr Chakaipa in the letter dated September 16, 2022 and copied to the Secretary for Local Government and Public Works, Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Harare Province and Chief Director Local Authorities.
The City of Harare had also applied to the LGB to discharge Dr Chingombe and the board said the parties should resolve the matter and brief it on the outcome.
Dr Chingombe was suspended in 2017 on allegations of double dipping, awarding monstrous retrenchment packages and awarding executives unjustified allowances.
Council reinstated him and later withdrew the reinstatement and he appealed to the Labour Court against the withdrawal of his reinstatement and won his case. Harare appealed against the Labour Court ruling and lost the case.
“The Local Government Board met on September 10, 2022 and deliberated on council application to discharge the director of human capital Dr Cainos Chingombe.
The Board noted that Harare City Council subsequently reinstated Dr Chingombe and later on withdrew the reinstatement.
The Board also noted that Dr Chingombe appealed to the Labour Court against the withdrawal of the reinstatement and won the case. Harare City Council sought leave to appeal and lost the case.
“Accordingly, the Board through Resolution Number LGB011/ 2022 decided that since the matter had been resolved by the courts, Harare City Council and Dr Chingombe should settle this labour issue and inform the Board of the outcome, thereof,” wrote Mr Chakaipa, in the letter dated September 16, 2022 and copied to the Secretary for Local Government and Public Works, Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Harare Province and Chief Director Local Authorities.
A number of other top council officials are on suspension on various allegations of misconduct and these include town clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango, Mr Stanely Ndemera who was acting finance director following the suspension of Mr Kwenda, housing director Mr Addmore Nhekairo, director of works Engineer Zvenyika Chawatama and Chamber Secretary Mr Charles Kandemiri.
All the suspended directors have been receiving their salaries and benefits in full which include fuel allowances, school fees allowances and holiday allowances further denting the city’s already parlous financial status.