BancABC throws council a lifeline

Harare City Council has finally secured a $3.8m loan from Banc ABC to resuscitate its farms, Hillside Nursery, a Pest Control Company and Mabvazuva Hospitality Resorts into commercially viable entities. The council has been struggling since 2009 to obtain the funds needed to effectively utilise its farms which include Ingwe, Crowborough and Porta Farms. There are presently 4,000 head of cattle on the farms.

The Acting Town Clerk, Josephine Ncube.
The Acting Town Clerk, Josephine Ncube.

Plans are afoot to set up an abattoir, dairy and commercial farming ventures to generate more revenue.

The Acting Town Clerk, Josephine Ncube advised the joint Finance and Business Committees that Banc ABC had granted funds totalling $3.8m. Harare farms allocated $2m, Mabvazuva Hospitality, $1m, Hillside Nursery. $600,000 and a Pest Control Company, $200,000.

“Council approves the formation of companies and the setting up of management boards which shall run the prioritised projects in line with their potential for a quick turnaround on revenue streams,” read minutes of the council minutes adopted last week. It also approved that experienced farm workers be employed and paid salaries and allowances applicable to the farm industry.

HCC decided to buy out a partner it had previously engaged with in the Mabvazuva project. “In view of failure by the partner to meet the requirements of the Mabvazuva joint venture project, a proper board of directors will be appointed in the shortest possible time to run the business,” read the minutes.

Hillside Nursery School is envisaged to be upgraded to lucrative standards in order to attract the elite living in the eastern suburbs of the city.

Council noted the potential and need to venture into a pest control business. “There is need to venture into this business and to ensure that the project is properly managed so as to achieve quick returns on the investment,” say the minutes.

Meanwhile, councillors resolved to hold a special finance meeting within the next two weeks to come up with plans to tighten screws on revenue leakages.

“Despite council owning vast properties and enterprises, we are not getting enough revenue as tenants are not paying and unscrupulous council officials are diverting funds. It is high time we put our house in order and set up systems that make sure every cent reaches our coffers, we cannot fail to pay our workers on time,” said deputy mayor, Thomas Muzuva.

The Town House is currently grappling with a four month salary back-log for 2014 and 2013 bonus back payments for its work force numbering over 9,000 workers. As 70% of revenue is paid out as salaries, wages and allowances, the city wants to trim its workforce to less than 6,000 workers.

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