Harare municipality sweats over missing business records


Brenna Matendere

Harare—Jacob Mafume, the Harare mayor, has called for a fresh hunt for missing records relating to Rufaro Marketing (Pvt) Ltd, a once-sprawling municipal cash cow that has crumbled due to gross mismanagement, corruption and stiff competition.

Mafume told NewsHub that the local authority has tasked a new Rufaro Marketing board to pursue the former chief executive officer (CEO), Daniel Mutiwadirwa, who was suspended early last year and later fired by the old board for alleged incompetence and misdemeanour.

Harare mayor, Jacob Mafume

For more than a decade, the business unit that is wholly owned by council has been letting its 86 beer outlets that used to be popular with the capital’s high density suburb patrons from the 1980s until it started collapsing post-2000, with the last liquor unit being leased in 2012.

The council handed over six of the outlets to retrenched workers rent-free while the remainder was leased to private tenants, some of who subdivided them into shops throughout the city.

Mafume says beverages producer, Delta Corporation, is one of the most notable tenants that is operating a brewery on a Rufaro Marketing asset.

At its peak, Rufaro Marketing used to finance council clinics, schools and stadia—now rundown—as well as the education of employees’ dependents, among other social services.

According to Mafume, Mutiwadirwa must be pursued so that he hands over the books regarding the leases as well as employment contracts for former or existing Rufaro Marketing workers, amid suspicions that the former CEO could have been corruptly collecting rentals or even running some of them for personal gain.

Among other things, the ex-boss was suspended in January 2023 for refusing to hand the records to the old board that was led by human rights lawyer, Obey Shava, whose team was relieved of its duties under unclear circumstances.

The CEO was also accused of failing to heed a directive from the chairperson to convene an extraordinary general meeting.

Mutiwadirwa was Rufaro Marketing CEO from September 2011 to August last year when he was fired.

One of the Rufaro Marketing assets

While sources at Town House professed ignorance about his whereabouts—with some even speculating that he had skipped the country—NewsHub established that he is now running his own local company, Daniel’s Path (Pvt) Ltd, that specialises in extraction and milling as well as the hire of construction equipment.

Mutiwadirwa formed the company in February last year following his suspension, but before he was fired.

“We have instructed the new board to get to the end of the earth looking for the (former) CEO of Rufaro Marketing. He has not been helping in giving us books of financial transactions that happened during his tenure so that we peruse them.

“Again, there is the issue of council bars where we want to investigate how the leases were given out to select business people during his tenure and how proceeds from there were used.

“We want him to furnish us with copies of the lease agreements in respect of all the Rufaro Marketing tenants and the contracts of employment in respect of all its employees,” Mafume told NewsHub.

During a council business meeting in September 2022, Mafume said council was not getting “a single cent” from the Rufaro Marketing leases and described this as a “sad story of gross mismanagement, abuse and recklessness” that “borders on criminality”.

“We need to stop the rot…We cannot have a situation where someone abuses their position…and mismanages completely, to the effect where we get zero revenue (sic),” said Mafume then.

He recommended the termination of Mutiwadirwa’s contract of employment, even though that took almost a year.

In an interview with this publication, Mutiwadirwa, however, dismissed the allegations against him as a strategy by council to mask unspecified corruption at Town House.

He insisted that council did not follow proper procedure when it suspended him and added that the disciplinary board that concluded his expulsion was also improperly constituted.

“I was suspended on 18 January 2023 and was never served with a physical copy of the letter because they wanted immediate control of the office. I was never allowed to get in the office (sic). I have not got time to collect my personal effects up to this day.

“The allegation that I took away company documents cannot be correct since I was barred to enter the office upon being served with the suspension letter (electronically). I refused to give copies of company documents to directors outside formally convened meetings or without a resolution but allowed them to inspect documents in the office,” he said.

He denied grabbing company assets or converting proceeds from the leases to personal use.

“Those are mere allegations which they cannot substantiate. The outlets have names and they need to specify which ones were converted for my personal use,” he said.

On his expulsion, Mutiwadirwa said: “The disciplinary authority was so biased. The board was illegal and had no authority to do whatever it did. The hearing was all political. The main charge was failure to convene an EGM (extraordinary general meeting), which is a shareholders’ meeting. Shava wanted a board meeting. He did not know the difference between the two meetings.”

Mutiwadirwa immediately appealed against the expulsion at court.

When reached for a comment, Shava said: “As far as I can remember, that issue was concluded long back. Of course, I wouldn’t know about the appeal since I left the organisation (a) long time ago.”

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