Harare city boss in nepotism storm

Tafadzwa Muranganwa

Harare—The City of Harare (CoH) acting human capital development director, Matthew Marara, a former senior soldier, is in the limelight for alleged nepotism in job appointments at Town House.

Five years ago, Marara, a retired major, was also reported to have looted residential land in Kuwadzana, Harare, and taken to court on a fraud charge. He was then the acting director of housing and community services.

In 2020, he apparently resigned from CoH, only to resurface last year. 

Insiders acknowledged to NewsHub that nepotism and favouritism were rife in all departments at the municipality, but they said Marara was the biggest offender.

The acting director, however, dismissed the allegations as the work of his detractors and vowed that nothing would happen to him.

Matthew Marara

“Marara has taken over Town House. His relatives can be found in almost every department. I think that at least 40 of his kith and kin are employed here,” said one of the insiders.

Another source said eyebrows have been raised around the employment and promotion of Marara’s relatives in the municipal police department by chief security officer, Collen Tongoona, who is facing a case of abuse of office.

“We have noticed that Tongoona has been favouring Marara’s relatives and this smacks of a plan by the former to get protection. Mind you, Tongoona has a case of abuse of office lingering over his head which he desperately needs Marara to protect him,” said the source.

Among Marara’s relatives in the municipal police department is his brother, James Marara, who was recently moved to a more senior position in the training department.

James Marara’s wife, one NR Mandebvu, is stationed in the licensing department.

Fellow employees at the municipality are riled by Matthew Marara’s decision to employ his sister, Blessing, in the licensing department as well.

The department is considered a cash cow by many as corrupt officials use it to extort money and demand bribes from clients.

Our sources described Blessing as “illiterate”.

“It is worrying when nepotism gets to the level of employing someone who is illiterate like Blessing Marara, a sister to human capital director Matthew Marara. I don’t know how on earth she got a job in the licensing department which requires one to be able to read and write,” said one of the CoH employees.

Blessing could not be located for her response.

The human resources committee chairperson, Simon Mapanzure, told NewsHub that the report of nepotism needed to be investigated.

“As you may know, we have just assumed office for the new term, so I cannot comment authoritatively on the matter regarding the said employee. The allegations about employing relatives would require myself and the committee to investigate and verify the alleged facts before commenting.  Of course, council takes such allegations seriously and will act where necessary,” said Mapanzure.

Matthew Marara said the allegations against him were not worth commenting on, and claimed some unspecified people were plotting against him.

No comment. Payakambonyorwa nyaya yaurikubvunza yakaita trend in 2020 pane chachija here? (When the story was written in 2020, what changed?). Don’t allow some people to manipulate you as a journalist,” said Marara.

Tongoona, the chief security officer, first asked for information regarding the allegations about him but later ducked repeated efforts for an interview.

Marara’s LinkedIn profile shows that he started working for the council more than 15 years ago. He led the housing department before his current position.

Prior to that, he was the monitoring and evaluation manager for more than three years and was at one the Harare City Football Club secretary general.

Between 1996 and 2006, Marara—a teacher by profession—worked as a human resources officer, education officer, school head and platoon commander in the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA).

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