Hunger striker petitions Parliament

Harare resident Philosophy Josiah Nyapfumbi has petitioned the Parliamentary Committee on Local Government to probe mismanagement and irregularities at the Harare City Council.

Resident petitions parly Philosophy Josiah Nyapfumbi.
Resident petitions parly Philosophy Josiah Nyapfumbi.

Nyapfumbi recently went on a week-long hunger-strike at Town House demanding a forensic audit of council activities and the suspension of Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi. He wrote to Parliament after the local authority failed to meet his demands.

“I suspended my hunger strike after the mayor, Bernard Manyenyeni, assured me that the local authority would conduct a forensic audit as a matter of urgency. The aim of the petition is to pressure Parliament to move a motion in this regard,” Nyapfumbi told The Zimbabwean.

He is particularly concerned about the Chinese-Harare water deal, reasons for council purchasing vehicles using the $144,4 million Chinese loan meant for a water project and the criteria used to sell stands to top council officials.

Parliament should play its role by helping Harare become accountable, transparent and professional in its conduct he said. It had failed to deliver services and pay workers partly as a result of mismanagement and misplaced priorities.

“My plea to Parliament is that council management should be taught that it is residents’ constitutional right to be updated about agreements and other commitments involving the city,” Nyapfumbi said.

He also wants council to reveal salaries earned by management and devise sustainable mechanisms for paying workers.

Chair of the committee Irene Zindi said the petition would be dealt with this week. “We cannot afford to ignore the citizen’s concerns,” she said.

Meanwhile, Parliament has summoned the town clerk to explain why council purchased vehicles from funds meant for the rehabilitation of the town’s water system. When Nyapfumbi was on the hunger strike, Mahachi described him as ‘a funny man enjoying himself’.

The mayor commended Nyapfumbi for his concern, saying “you have gone beyond despair and armchair commentary”. He assured him that an audit would take place and pleaded with him to suspend the hunger strike until results were available.

In 2010 the City of Harare and China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation signed a massive loan agreement to refurbish water and sewer treatment plants. Last week Manyenyeni told a full council meeting that the agreement was too misty to understand and there was need for investigations. A committee has been formed to investigate.

This followed revelations that council management had bought 25 cars, whose value was yet to be disclosed, using the loan.

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