Councillors demand data bundles

By Staff reporter | 07 Mar 2020 at 19:12hrs
Harare City Council has approved the splashing of US$14 000 on four foreign trips between February 3 and March 13, at a time when residents face the prospect of going without water owing to the shortage of treatment chemicals.

As if this is not enough, councillors are demanding to be paid an allowance for data bundles during council meetings.

Residents say the local authority's penchant for extravagance has seriously affected service delivery, especially refuse collection and the provision of potable water.

The foreign trips that Harare City bosses have approved for the release of money include the attendance of Mayor Councillor Herbert Gomba and three council employees at the inaugural partnership for healthy cities summit set for London, the United Kingdom, from March 12 to 13.

The quartet will spend US$8 403 to be paid at the prevailing interbank rate in accommodation, travel insurance, per diem (allowance) and visa-fee reimbursement.

On another trip, town clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango was cleared to get US$1 680 for the ongoing climate change educational partnerships and innovation in communities Africa network (epic-n) training workshop in Durban, South Africa. The workshop started on February 3 and ends today.

Eng Chisango was given the green light to spend US$2 305 in incidental and foreign trips allowances to attend the ICDL Capacitating Local Leaders workshop in Homa Bay, Kenya, from March 2 to 3, 2020. The ICDL Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy was reportedly paying the town clerk's airfares and accommodation.

According to recent Education, Health, Housing and Community Services and Licensing Committee Minutes, council has authorised the payment of councillors' allowances for data bundles. "The Committee enquired progress on the E-agenda," reads the minutes.

"The acting chamber secretary reported that council had resolved that councillors would be paid an allowance for the purchase of data bundles and the resolution was being implemented." Harare spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme said the UK trip, which was fully sponsored, had been put on hold.

"The organisers have frozen the trip until the issue of coronavirus has been addressed or is stable," he said.

"So, no trip for now, but all the same, international and regional engagements are vital.

"Cities need to engage bilaterally and multilaterally on a subscale to what Central Government does, city to city relations are a very strong collaboration platform that has in the past helped Harare. Through the partnership with Munich we received medications, generators, training and employee exchanges."

Harare Residents Trust director Mr Precious Shumba took a swipe at council for having misplaced priorities.

"The Harare Residents' Trust has repeatedly denounced the city of Harare councillors, especially the Mayor for their insatiable appetite to spend ratepayers' money without investing their time in building institutional mechanisms to increase council revenues, enhance social service delivery and get the unforced cooperation of ratepayers," he said.



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