Blessings Chidakwa and Yeukai Karengezeka
Harare City Council has agreed to sell four beerhalls to offset a $4,8 million debt that Rufaro Marketing owes various stakeholders.
Rufaro Marketing is a council-run firm, which used to operate beer gardens across the city.
The debt accumulated over the years due to poor management, rampant theft and maladministration by the local authority.
The council’s move comes after the city recently hinted on dissolving the Rufaro Marketing and converting some of the bars into service stations and shopping malls.
According to recent Finance and Development Committee minutes, council agreed to “The sale of four former Rufaro Marketing (Private) Limited beerhalls in order to pay-off $4 828 775,51 owed to various creditors named in the preamble above by Rufaro Marketing (Private) Limited.”
Harare Mayor Councillor Herbert Gomba recently highlighted that the dissolution of the board was unavoidable.
“City of Harare is going to dissolve the Rufaro Marketing board to retain control of its assets in view of the damage being done to its assets by those renting the bars.
“Going forward, the city intends to partner with the fuel industry in use of some of these bars, converting some to fuel stations and turning others into small shopping malls,” he said.
Cllr Gomba said the beerhalls had become derelict, disused and virtual failures.
“Our responsibility is to maintain municipal assets in good shape. This cannot continue, these illegal activities in municipal bars must end.
“Numerous illegal extensions have happened without approvals, tuckshops have been created in bars, pushing us to act,” he said.
Rufaro Marketing is reported to also have in the past offered six outlets to retrenched workers under an empowerment programme that saw 27 former employees being granted the use of the beerhalls for free as part of their retrenchment packages.
The company is said to have sent its remaining 269 workers on forced leave pending their transfer to Harare City Council.
Other employees received retrenchment packages.
Meanwhile, the local authority is also set to auction 1 000 cattle from its farms worth at least $3,5 million.
The cattle would be sold in three batches and the money will be used for capital works such as land improvement, plant, machinery and ICT requirements.
According to recent Environmental Management Committee minutes, Harare acting water engineer Engineer Mabhena Moyo reported that council had extended its selling deadline of the cattle to July 2020.