Harare councillors’ splurging spree at ZITF

26 May, 2023 - 00:05 0 Views
Harare councillors’ splurging spree at ZITF Harare councillors accused of splurging ratepayers money.


Suburban Reporter 

HARARE councillors have once again come under fire for splurging money on non-core activities after more than 20 of them and officials attended the just ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo at the expense of ratepayers.

The Harare Residents Trust (HRT) has expressed dismay over the conduct of the councillors who despite stridently opposing the abuse of ratepayers’ money when they sought office in the 2018 council elections and in last year’s council by-elections, went against their own undertakings.

“Plus 20 City of Harare (councillors and officials) attended the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair which ended on 29 April 2023 in Bulawayo. A lot of the councillors who went to Bulawayo are the same councillors who were vociferously opposed to the abuse of ratepayers’ money when they came into office after the last by-elections. Now they are worse than those they were criticising,” HRT said in a statement on their Facebook Page. The residents body said the councillors attendance at the annual business showcase does not bring any value to the City Harare as the politicians will just be attending in order to draw allowances.

“From experience, these councillors just go for pleasure. Previous resolutions of council were that only members of the Information and Publicity Committee would attend the ZITF together with council staff responsible for communication and media. It is sad that the City of Harare councillors seem to be desperately trying to maximise on every opportunity to travel at the expense of ratepayers. Why should 20 City of Harare councillors go to the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF)? 

“Councillors should not deceive ratepayers by overspending their funds on allowances alone. We expected decency from our councillors but they have become greedier than any crop of councillors for Harare. A closer look at the attendance of workshops reveals that the same councillors are travelling while others are left out because they oppose the reckless looting of council coffers,” HRT said.

Recently, The Herald reported that CCC councillors are allegedly looting council coffers through the conduit of holding workshops, with each of them having a target of fundraising US$5 000 as a war chest for the upcoming harmonised elections.

Harare is among those leading the pack, with the CCC councillors who failed to be nominated during the party’s recent exercise to choose election candidates looting funds through sell of residential, commercial and industrial stands as their “last supper”.

Confidential documents show that the councillors are organising at least a minimum of three workshops per week outside Harare to siphon money, and have sent a huge delegation to the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo, with almost all councillors, including their wives or girlfriends.

This will likely prejudice the local authority of very huge sums of money.

“The looting of funds through workshops has been happening for years, with the parent Ministry intervening at times by banning workshops outside Harare and limiting the allowances payable,” read the documents.

“However, from 2022, the syphoning of council coffers by councillors, through out-of Harare workshops, is at full steam and assuming large scale proportions in 2023.

“The councillors have been on a looting spree because they want to raise money for campaigning in the pending harmonised elections. Each CCC councillor in an urban centre has been ordered to raise US$5 000 for the party as contributions to party election coffers.

“In this regard, the looting is happening in all CCC-controlled urban centres, but is more rampant and visible in Harare.”

The report further highlighted that the strategies to loot funds through workshops are well thought out in such a way that councillors are being given funds by council to book in top-class hotels, (meals included), but end up getting accommodation at cheaper lodges and pocketing the remainder of the money.

“Each councillor is claiming locomotion or mileage allowance for a trip to the workshop venue, but four or five councillors will use one car for the trip,” read the documents.

“Councillors are getting travel allowances, lunch and accommodation fees for the days of travel to (check-in) and from (check-out) workshops venues but driving to the venue on the day of the workshop and leaving for home immediately after the workshop thus pocketing allowance fees for pre-and-post workshops dates while one is at home.”

The report stated that the councillors were having two workshops within the same town, one immediately after another, but being paid as if they had travelled from Harare for the second workshop.

“They are also being paid allowances by council and by a council outside entity, for workshops/events running concurrently or one after another in the same town, also engaging in double-dipping,” read the report.

“They use a council vehicle or fuel for a trip to the workshop venue, but claiming locomotion fees based on the Automobile Association of Zimbabwe rates or even resorting to using public transportation or hiking to the workshop venues,” reads the report.

The report further alleged that the Harare City Council was sponsoring on average three council committee workshops every week and the preferred venues were Mutare and Nyanga (during summer months) and Kariba and Victoria Falls (during winter months).

“Councillors themselves plan the workshop dates and choose the venues and council management is compelled to fund the workshops and is powerless to stop the rot,” reads the report.

“Last week, a number of the councillors were in Kadoma from Friday the 14th to Monday the 17th April. The Audit Committee was in Mutare for almost the whole of last week, before that it was the Business Committee, then the Informal Trading Committee.”

The report alleged that this was the pattern every week and that millions were being spent on these escapades while service delivery is in comatose.

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