Harare council okays criminal suspect employees’ return

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By Alois Vinga

THE Harare City Council (HCC) has resolved to allow senior officials currently answering to corruption charges within the courts to turn up for work if their bail conditions were flexible.

This, according to authorities at town house, is intended to allow the smooth flow of business within the country’s biggest local authority.

This comes after several former and current senior council officials have been arrested in the past months in connection with the illegal parcelling out of land in the capital.

They include former mayor Herbert Gomba, town clerk Hosiah Chisango, former housing director Matthew Marara, and housing assistant Aaron Taerera.

The blitz has also led to the arrest of court officials and State security agents.

But despite that the top officials are answering to serious corruption charges which are directly connected to their line of work, minutes of the Human Resources and General Purposes Committee meeting held on October 13 2020  resolved to allow such officials back at work.

“That council notes that the employees whose bail conditions are flexible, without any strict conditions may be allowed to report for duty under very strict control and supervision of the investigation authorities after due assessment of the bail conditions viz a viz the employees working conditions,” the minutes read in part.

Such officials shall work under the strict supervision of the Acting Human Capital Director in consultation with the Acting Chamber Secretary and Audit Manager.

HCC clarified that while the officials were answering to serious corruption charges, they “are currently on bail whose conditions prohibit them from interfering with investigations and witnesses but do not prohibit them from reporting for their duties.”

Council noted “that the placement of suspension and or leave of the employees referred to in the Acting Human Capital Director’s report under paragraph 4.1 and recommendation (1) above has had an adverse effect on the normal operation of council business”.

Council also noted the arrest of the Acting director of Housing and Community Services for alleged illegal allocation and sale of council land.

If implemented, the resolution is likely to trigger citizen debate as it may be perceived as a new low in the country’s overly weak approach to dealing with corruption.