Zimbabwe

Harare City Council Officials Awarded Luxury Vehicles

Harare City Council (HCC) officials have been awarded new Toyota Fortuner GD-6 sport utility vehicles, each costing around US$70,000 for the lowest-priced model, reported NewsDay.

The vehicles, which were reportedly purchased from a local car dealer, were allocated to 10 officials in Grade Four positions at the council.

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However, the officials have been reluctant to drive the luxury vehicles to the Town House due to concerns that it may raise eyebrows among the public.

The optics of senior municipal officials using such expensive vehicles, especially at a time when the city is facing numerous infrastructure and service delivery challenges, may be viewed unfavourably by residents. Said a NewsDay source:

Council secretly brought 10 vehicles for Grade Four officials. 85% of the total cost is paid by the City of Harare. The beneficiaries will pay only 15% which will be deducted from their monthly salaries.

They are not driving the vehicles to Town House because they fear that the other employees will know about the matter. We have a situation where some officials are parking their vehicles outside Town House.

On Sunday, HCC’s acting finance director, Godfrey Kusangaya, confirmed to NewsDay the acquisition of the vehicles. He said:

This is a human resource issue, but they got the vehicles through loans. They have loans. People say what they want, but you can get our human resources department if you want more details.

Yesterday, when contacted by NewsDay, Human Resources and General Purposes Committee Chairperson Councillor George Mujajati declined to comment on the matter.

The report says Stanley Gama, the Council’s Head of Corporate Communications, did not respond to calls made to his mobile phone yesterday.

Precious Shumba, the director of the Harare Residents Trust, has called for government intervention to address this issue, arguing that the council should prioritize service delivery over the purchase of expensive vehicles. Said Shumba:

Service delivery at Harare City Council has collapsed, refuse collection is almost non-existent, water supply is in shambles, sewer bursts are not being attended to, but we are seeing extravagant displays by council officials.

So we are urging the beneficiaries of these council vehicles to come forward. If they believe that they deserve them, they must drive them to Town House. When they report for duty, they must be seen by fellow council workers.

Council district officers do not have vehicles yet they are the chief representatives of council at local level and they do not have vehicles to move around in communities and residential areas to monitor infrastructural development that is going on and taking place.

I have been to district offices and they do not have stationery to talk about. They do not have computers, they are using their own personal money at council to buy stationery so that they can print.

They have all the money to buy luxury vehicles for senior executives but they abandoned their mandate. We believe the government should intervene in a way that will put a stop to buying luxury things at the expense of service delivery.

Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) director Reuben Akili criticised the council for misplaced priorities. He said:

We have always said that HCC does not know its major priorities. What is the reason for buying such luxurious vehicles?

This is wrong. We are not happy about that at all. We are demanding answers on why these vehicles were bought.

This is not the first time that the Harare City Council (HCC) has been embroiled in a controversy over the acquisition of luxury vehicles.

Ten years ago, council officials were alleged to have diverted a portion of a US$144.4 million loan from China, which was intended for water and sewer infrastructure projects, to instead purchase 25 high-end vehicles, including Land Rovers and Range Rovers.

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