Broke Harare council splurges on 25 vehicles

HARARE – Harare City Council (HCC) has purchased 25 vehicles meant for debt collection, the Daily News has learnt.

The fleet of Hyundai i110’s — which costs approximately $24 000 apiece — arrived on Monday amid worsening service delivery in the city.

HCC spokesperson Michael Chideme confirmed the purchase.

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The purchase was made after council sought authority from the State Procurement Board.

Residents Forum (Ref) condemned the purchase arguing the money could have been channelled towards improving service delivery.

“It surely boggles the mind when council prioritises luxury at the expense of human dignity and livelihoods,” Ref coordinator Denford Ngadziore said.

“Last time, council failed to justify the vehicles they bought using the $144 million China Eximbank loan,” he said, adding the cars were bought without approval from a full council resolution.

A council employee who declined to be named said: “It baffles us why council has to buy these cars considering that they have engaged debt collectors to do the same job for them. This is just a waste of money.”

The residents have complained bitterly about council’s move to engage Wellcash (Pvt) (Ltd) debt collectors saying they were having to pay extra money on top of what they owe to the HCC as the debt collectors were charging an extra 10 percent.

“This is the highest level of extortion that we are being exposed to. The most painful part is that they (Wellcash) tell you that they do not accept anything less than $50 and with this current economic situation, we wonder where they expect us to get the money from,”  Mailos Jena told a community meeting organised by the Combined Harare Residents Association on January 30.

This comes as council is battling to recover more than $530 million owed to it by residents, companies, industry and government departments.

The council employee added: “Right now we are six months behind in salaries yet they have the audacity to buy brand new cars.”

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