Defiant council officials report for duty 

Source: Defiant council officials report for duty | The Herald

Defiant council officials report for dutyMinister Moyo

Blessings Chidakwa Municipal Reporter

SUSPENDED senior officials at Harare City Council and Chitungwiza Municipality with pending court cases are continuing to carry out official duties despite a clear Government directive that they stay away from work until their cases are finalised.

Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo late last year condemned the reinstatement of arrested and suspended employees saying there was no guarantee that they would not interfere with evidence or with witnesses.

Permanent Secretary Mr Zvinechimwe Churu recently warned councils against ignoring the calls by continuing to accommodate people with pending criminal cases.

Harare town clerk, Engineer Hosiah Chisango, last week was seen carrying out his duties at Town House while handing over a consignment of disposable protective clothing donated by the Chinese Embassy to City Health District Administrator Mr Oliver Chari.

He is being charged with criminal abuse of office, bribery and fraud that stemmed from the illegal creation and sale of stands in Kuwadzana, Harare.

A recently leaked internal Chitungwiza memo of January 12 on planned demolitions exposed that the city engineer David Duma, with a slew of charges related to potential corruption in land matters, was carrying out his official duties at liberty. This is in contrary to Mr Churu’s statement which bars them from carrying official duties until cleared by the courts.

“While the court’s conditions of bail do not restrict them from going back to work and resuming their normal duties, the conditions indicate that there should not be interference with witnesses, intimidation thereof or subsequent suspension of any witness or potential witnesses, and going back to work and resuming normal duties infringes upon these bail conditions,” he said.

“The Ministry of Local Government and Public Works therefore appeals to all local authorities to exercise good corporate governance and ethical conduct by not reinstating individuals who are in the midst of on-going investigations and criminal cases,” Mr Churu said.

Government has been noting a growing trend across local authorities that councillors were passing resolutions and making structural changes that would ultimately influence ongoing investigations in favour of those facing criminal charges.

President Mnangagwa is determined to eliminate corruption across all facets of the economy, and many high profile people have been arrested and charged on corruption-related matters.

A number of top managers in councils are facing charges in courts.

City of Harare has the highest number of officials in courts, with Mayor Jacob Mafume presently suspended over abuse of office allegations.

He was arrested just over a month after taking over from former mayor Herbert Gomba, who also has a case to answer in the courts.