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City of Harare fight its own district officers
August 17, 2011
Employment Council (NEC) for the Harare Municipal Undertaking has
ruled that the City of Harare should fully implement a 2008 resolution
to return all traditional functions to the District Officers, the
key managers in the council's local communities.
In Case Number
324/04/11, the five low density district officers of Mt Pleasant,
Greendale/Highlands, Mabelreign/Marlborough, Waterfalls, and Borrowdale
took the City of Harare to the NEC for conciliation on 2 April 2011
"concerning alleged unfair labour practice".
In the ensuing
hearing, the district officers and the City of Harare agreed that:
"There should be implementation of the council resolution
dated 23/12/08, together with the Town Clerk's memos dated
6 May 2009 and 8 April 2010 concerning reinstatement of traditional
roles of District Officers."
was delivered and signed on 19 July 2011 by Gweshe J. as the officer
presiding over the matter.
the Director for Human Resources for the City of Harare Mr Cainos
Chimombe wrote a departmental memorandum on 28 July 2011 addressed
to the Director of the Department of Engineering Services Engineer
Philip Pfukwa and the Director of Harare Water Dr Christopher Magwenzi
Zvobgo urging them to immediately implement the council resolution
of returning traditional functions to the district Officers.
is made to the Certificate of Settlement dated 19 July 2011 and
letters from the Town Clerk and Director of Housing and Community
Services respectively on the matter," Chimombe said in the
He urged both
directors to ensure that all staff in the low density district offices
report to the District Officers. Chimombe said employees in the
Engineering Services Department and Harare Water needed to follow
the dual reporting system, where they report to both of them on
technical issues and to the District Officers on day to day operational
compliance with the NEC order will assist us to avoid costly litigations
because the District Officers are contemplating to take their matter
further to the arbitration," Chimombe wrote. "Our defence
in this matter is very weak on this matter hence you need to comply."
Residents' Trust (HRT) has been following with keen interest
this matter as it impacts positively or negatively on service provision
in the communities. Low Density District Officers were in formerly
Town Management Boards (TMB) which were autonomous, allowing the
officers to make firm decisions on service delivery in their localities
and coming up with project priorities in consultation with the residents
of the particular area.
the coming in of the ill-advised Strategic Turnaround of the City
of Harare in 2008 which created the ineffective business units,
the functions of district officers were eroded and their responsibilities
given to other new departments, leaving them with very little to
do except to report for work and loiter around. Under the turnaround
strategy done by then consultant and now Town Clerk Dr Tendai Mahachi,
the District Officers were renamed Customer Services Officers, reducing
them to mere figureheads, with most powers and authority now vested
in officials housed at Rowan Martin, Town House and Old Mutual Building
where the Harare Water offices are located at the intersection on
Sam Nujoma Street and Speke Avenue.
The impact of
this has been that thousands of residents facing acute water shortages,
sewerage blockages, inflated bills, non-refuse collection and other
housing challenges have been forced to travel to Rowan Martin Building
for help instead of being assisted at their local District Offices.
Instead of rendering assistance to residents bringing their concerns
to them, the District Officers have been illegally replaced, but
fearing for a costly litigation if they decide to use the Labour
Act (Chapter 28:01), the authorities are just keeping them in
their offices yet have stripped them of their honour to be serving
the residents at community level.
the City of Harare, some councillors and in the HRT view this anomaly
as a power game featuring the Town Clerk and his management against
the District Officers and the residents on the other hand.
stationed at District Offices currently report to their respective
department heads of supervisors and are not accountable to the District
Officers, yet when residents face any problems; they rush to the
District Officer who merely refers them to Town House, Cleveland
House and Rowan Martin Building for simple solutions. But these
same employees have taken advantage of this gap in supervision to
do other private errands most of the time, while remaining on the
council's payroll, of course at the expense of the ratepayer.
The HRT urges
the Mayor of Harare and his council of Harare to act on this Certificate
of Settlement, in line with their previous resolutions ordering
the return of the traditional functions to the District Officers.
It remains a mystery how the Mayor and his councillors have not
intervened on behalf of residents since 2008 when the council made
its first resolution on this matter. This goes to show that the
Town Clerk and his management are bullying the elected representatives
of the people to safeguard their small empires, which residents
are determined to dismantle without any further delay.
Visit the Harare
Residents' Trust fact
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