The Sunday Mail
HARARE Mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni has blocked a finance committee resolution to sell properties worth US$25 million to raise money for workers outstanding salaries.
The resolution was made by the finance committee in May where it was agreed that the local authority would sell some of its industrial, commercial and residential stands through a public tender.
Council owes its workers about US$8 million against monthly revenue collection of US$10 million. It has been committing US$275 000 daily to service the wage bill.
Cllr Manyenyeni told The Sunday Mail he was opposed to selling off council properties.
“I am not going to approve the sale of properties; it will be irresponsible for us to dispose capital assets to service recurrent expenditure,” he said.
Instead, Cllr Manyenyeni, said the council would explore other ways of servicing recurrent expenditure. “We have to improve our revenue collection and not dispose our assets; what’s next after we have sold everything and still have salary arrears,” he said.
Cllr Manyenyeni added, “I refused to sign the finance committee resolution because it was rushed for a transaction of its magnitude.
Instead I am recommending Full Council deliberation on the matter. We are disposing of capital assets to fund operational costs; we need to regain stakeholder trust after the Harare Gardens partial sale angered some residents.”
The mayor said it was prudent that the local authority sticks to a Government directive that 30 percent of revenue should go towards salaries while 70 percent is dedicated to capital projects.
However, Cllr Manyenyeni’s decision was likely to be resisted by some city fathers.
A senior council official said there was no way an individual could block a council resolution.
“What value do we get from undeveloped land? If the land is developed, it means we will get revenue through rates and rentals,” added the official.
Another council official said if the mayor was not in agreement with the resolution he should refer the matter back to the finance committee.
Town planner Mr Psychology Chiwanga backed the idea of selling land. “If those pieces of land are not developed why not dispose? It means council will be keeping them for speculative purposes but if the properties were developed it was wrong to dispose them,” he said.