Mnangagwa’s City of Harare probe commission turns heat on council management

Justice Maphios Cheda


The Justice Maphios Cheda-led commission of inquiry into operations at the Harare City Council has blamed management at Town House for the challenges affecting operations of its strategic business units (SBUs), especially Harare Quarry.

Commissioners yesterday turned on the heat on council’s director for works, Isaiah Chawatama, blaming him and other members of management for the poor performance of Harare Quarry.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa in May appointed a five-member commission to investigate the City of Harare’s management and council since 2017.

Former opposition stalwart and politician Lucia Matibenga, who was Public Service minister during the era of the government of national unity from 2009 to 2013, is a member of the commission.

Local Government and Public Works secretary John Basera is the secretary to the commission, while chief director responsible for local authorities, Khonzani Ncube, is also part of the commission.

Other members of the commission are Steven Chakaipa, the Local Government board chairperson and legal practitioner Norbert Phiri.

Harare Quarry is led by a five-member board, with only two independent members, while the other three are City of Harare employees, including Chawatama.

During the hearing yesterday, Phiri said Harare Quarry’s failure to perform was as result of the board, which is made up of the City of Harare employees.

“The majority of the board members at Harare Quarry is made up of City of Harare employees or assignees, so the failures of Harare Quarry are a result of the City of Harare since you control the majority,” Phiri said.

“You agreed that Harare Quarry is underperforming and one attributed it to mismanagement. However, the mine is managed by its board members, including yourself and the majority being city of Harare employees.”

During the hearing yesterday, the commission pointed out that a majority of the quarry’s board members were council employees that also included City Parking managing director Simon Muzviyo and Harare chief engineer Gerald Mutume.

The quarry has been reportedly performing poorly, leading to a shortage of asphalt, a crucial material for road repairs.

Chawatama, however, defended the quarry’s performance, attributing its struggles to lack of capital and outdated machinery.

He said Harare Quarry commissioned a due diligence study in which it did some work to propose merging the quarry mine with City Parking.

“There was a due diligence study commissioned by Harare Quarry, where they did some work to consider merging Harare Quarry, which is not performing at all, with City Parking, which is performing at least, and is giving dividends to the city,” Chawatama said.

“We are looking at merging the two so that City Parking can, in a way, recapitalise Harare Quarry so that the roads can then be able to receive products from Harare Quarry for the benefit of the roads.

“The products that we are looking at are the stone, the asphalt, mainly the stone and the asphalt, which is used on our roads.”

Chawatama was at pains to explain to the commission why the directors were not responsible for the failure, while revealing that the board last convened a meeting in May last year.

Meanwhile, Harare Quarry board chairperson Oswell Binha has said the city council, as a shareholder, was frustrating the process of resuscitating operations at the SBU.

“We need roughly a million United States dollars to resuscitate operations and start production, but it is frustrating how things are going and Harare City Council, as a shareholder, is not helping in making productive decisions,” Binha said.

“Harare City Council has to step up to resuscitate the quarry. However, some decisions made are questionable, therefore, the shareholder is standing in the way of the mine succeeding.”

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