HARARE City Council has rejected a request by three councillors who were demanding $12 000 each from the local authority to settle the legal fees they incurred when they were suspended by the Local Government ministry.
Wilson Janjazi of Kuwadzana, Urayayi Mangwiro (Kuwadzana) and Paula
Macharangwanda (Warren Park) had approached council demanding refund for legal fees they paid to lawyers who represented them during the tribunal hearing, but council turned down the claim.
“In terms of the ruling by the independent tribunal outlined above, and the legal opinion submitted to the committee, the committee (human resources committee) noted that council could not accede to the claim by the three councillors in question,” read part of the resolution passed by council last Monday.
Janjazi claimed that since he had been acquitted by the tribunal which was chaired by lawyer, Thabani Mpofu, council should settle his legal fees.
“Following a legal battle between myself and City of Harare through the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing soon after my suspension on the 24th of July 2017,” reads Janjazi’s letter to council. “I incurred legal costs, which I feel council must cater for since I have been cleared of any wrongdoing by the tribunal set up by the ministry.”
Three Harare councillors were suspended for allegedly defrauding council of close to $32 million in a sewer rehabilitation project in 2010, but were cleared by a tribunal — necessitating their return to council.
Mpofu and his team which included one T Nyamunda and one P Nyengwa, were tasked to probe allegations that in 2010, the three councillors, who sat in the procurement committee, awarded a shadowy company, Energy Resources Africa Consortium (ARAC), a contract to rehabilitate Firle and Crowborough sewer treatment plants without going to tender.
They were also facing charges of coming up with an unpriced bill of quantities for the rehabilitation works and neglecting to request the bidder to submit the required documents in breach of the provisions of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter29:15).
But in the tribunal’s findings, the trio had not committed any offence.
Besides the disciplinary processes, the three, together with former city treasurer Misheck Mubvumbi and other directors, still have a criminal case pending at the High Court on the same matter.
Meanwhile, Harare councillors have requested the local authority to review their out of pocket allowances, saying the $10 per day was not enough.