Harare to rotate staff to curb bribe-taking

Harare City Council will start rotating its staff in the markets and the Environmental Patrol Units (EPU) after allegations of corruption and bribery were raised.

In ordinary council minutes, attention was drawn to how the community service department was mismanaging the informal sector.

This comes as council recently established the informal sector department that will solely manage the affairs of the growing sector in the city.

“Council queried why officials who worked and collected revenue at the markets were not rotated.  “Council also noted allegations that EPU members received and pocketed cash and were allegedly never rotated creating loopholes in the process,” read part of the minutes.

“Council then enquired plans to plug the loopholes in revenue collection. It also pointed out that illegal market space barons pocketed market fees.”

Allegations of corruption were levelled against the council employees who were being paid late. Mayor Herbert Gomba however, said even if they were getting paid on time, there was a propensity for bribe-taking which must be nipped in the bud.

Gomba told a full council meeting that the employees in the markets and some municipal police were in the habit of warning offenders when a blitz was about to happen. “I know that there are employees who tell vendors and some of the illegal market operators to be ready when they are about to go on a blitz.

“Afterwards, they then demand bribes from individuals as protection money.  “Some of them get as much as $800 per week which is more than their salary. We need to start making sure that our employees are paid well to avoid these things otherwise we will not reach world class city status by 2025,” he said.

According to the informal sector committee minutes, revenue from markets dropped last year amid inadequate funding for the informal sector projects. “Revenue collection from the informal sector or the period January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018 amounted to $1,53 million.

“Revenue collection had declined by 23,39 percent during the year under review and this was attributed to political interference and allocation of market stalls to vendors and revenue collection and economic hardships resulting in traders failing to pay market fees to council due to sudden devaluation of the local currency,” read part of the minutes.

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