ZIMBABWE – Newly appointed Harare City Council finance director Mr Justin Mandizha, who has been accused of presiding over the decline of service delivery in the city and worsening the city’s salary arrears, has had his probation extended to six months.
Mr Mandizha has come under fire from councillors and other stakeholders who accuse him of failing to steer the city out of debt and contributing to the decline of service delivery through bureaucratic policies.
He is accused of delaying to sign and approve requisition forms for essential procurements such as fuel needed for refuse collection, resulting in most areas going for weeks without having their refuse collected.
Mr Mandizha was appointed finance director with effect from August 24 last year.
He is also accused of failing to deal with the city’s salary backlog.
When he became the finance director, the city was two months behind in paying salaries to its workers, but now Harare is four months behind, a situation negatively affecting service delivery.
“We decided to extend his probation after he failed to impress us,” said a city councillor. “We will take a look at him again, but I do not think he will get the contract.
“He is making some undesirable changes such as favouring foreign-owned companies at the expense of indigenous companies whose prices are usually lower.”
The councillor said some of the companies he is procuring goods from were not on the State Procurement Board list.
The councillor said the Human Resources Committee had erred in appointing Mr Mandizha given that he had no prior experience relating to local authorities.
Harare mayor councillor Bernard Manyenyeni professed ignorance on the matter, referring questions to Human Resources and General Purposes Committee chairperson councillor Wellington Chikombo who conceded that the city was still to confirm Mr Mandizha’s appointment.
“We are still awaiting a report from the acting town clerk (Mrs Josephine Ncube) so that we can decide on our next move,” he said, without giving further details.
Responding through the city’s acting corporate communication manager, Mr Michael Chideme, Mr Mandizha said, “The allegations have no merit. The team at the finance department is working well together.”
Harare Residents Trust alleges that Mr Mandizha seems to be frustrated by the high levels of unprofessional conduct by his colleagues who have been with the City of Harare for a longer time.
Mr Mandizha joined Harare city after a short stint with Cashflow Solutions (Pvt) Limited, immediately after his tenure with the United Nations where he has acquired the bulk of his working experience, initially with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and finally, the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO).