By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
12 March 2014
Embattled Harare Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi, this week appeared before Parliament where he failed to justify his salary of $13,000, which he claims was approved by the government and the mayor.
Reports said Mahachi and other Harare municipal directors were quizzed by the parliamentary portfolio committee on local government, but legislators were not impressed with the documentation presented to them.
A Daily News report quoted committee member and MDC-T MP Webster Maondera, saying the documents presented by Mahachi and his colleagues ‘don’t show anything we want to know.’ Maondera said the committee wanted to know whether the allowances Mahachi was getting were approved by the council.
The legislators queried Mahachi’s entertainment allowance of $1,400 asking him to account for it. Mahachi claimed that he entertained a Chinese delegation whom he took out for dinner in expensive restaurants.
According to the report, the committee rejected the salary schedule of directors that Mahachi produced, saying it was ‘not in sync’ with the service the council was providing to the rate payers. Asked why he does not consider resigning, Mahachi said he was a ‘hard worker’ claiming that he improved refuse collection in the city and brought water to the poor suburb of Mabvuku.
However, Mabvuku residents expressed ‘anger and dismay’ at Mahachi’s claims.
Community rights activist Reuben Akili said some areas in Mabvuku have been without water for more than 10 years. An irate Akili said: ‘It is provocative for Mahachi to say this. He has failed us and is stealing our money too. He can’t then claim that he is doing a good job.’ He added: ‘People are suffering from diarrhoeal related diseases and everywhere you go there are piles and piles of garbage. If you ask Mahachi himself when he last visited Mabvuku, he will tell you that he doesn’t know and so how can he claim to have brought water to us?’
Akili’s comments come a week after pressure groups reported nine cases of typhoid in the twin suburbs of Mabvuku and Tafara and blamed the council of ‘keeping a lid’ on the outbreak. Activists said Town House feared that the outbreak of typhoid would bring attention on their corruption and incompetence.
Other recent reports have said Town House may have swindled part of the $144 million Chinese loan meant for the rehabilitation of water and drainage systems. In January SW Radio Africa reported how the council had fleeced medical aid subscriptions amounting to $6 million. The report said the council had gone for two years without remitting subscriptions to the Harare Municipality Medical Aid Society. As a result some workers were failing to access treatment, despite the fact that subscriptions were being deducted from their salaries.
Mahachi was suspended earlier this year following reports that he and his colleagues were earning ‘obscene salaries’ but local government minister Ignatius Chombo ordered the council to reinstate him. Last month Mahachi told the parliamentary committee that the salaries were approved by both the government and Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni.