Harare city council’s error costs citizens around US$200m

By Wellington Makonese

The opposition-led Harare City Council has been exposed for prejudicing ratepayers of around US$200 million after ditching a tried and tested billing system under questionable circumstances.

Harare City Council Principal Legal Officer, Ms Alice Zeure said, “It is very sad that this amount of money has been lost and it should have been done better.”

That is the mess the city of Harare finds itself in, three years after ditching a billing system administered by a South African company which was unearthed by the 2020 auditor general report, which revealed that about US$200 million has gone unaccounted for by the city council.

Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee, the Harare City Council, led by Mayor Jacob Mafume, was at sixes and sevens over the way forward after being exposed for maladministration.

“What was the wisdom behind canceling the deal over a US$45000 difference, when you have costed millions?” asked Honourable Dexter Nduna, chairperson of the Local Government Public Accounts Sub-committee.

Mr Bozman Mutengarufu, Harare City Acting Town Clerk described it as just a misunderstanding between council and supplier.

While on previous occasions the council fathers threw sheds at the company in question, it was not until this Friday that the managing director, Mr Dannie Van Heerden had the chance to expose the shenanigans at town house.

“We pulled out of the deal due to breaches in contract and operating outside what we got. The water bills were not accounted for. The executive salaries were not part of system. They used banks that were close 26 for the various processes,” he explained.

It also emerged during the inquest that the city council is in search of another software developer, though under another cloud of underhand dealings.

The opposition-led Harare City Council is not new to corruption with a number of senior officials having been arrested for graft and what is left is for the involved parties to be held accountable.