THE Harare City Council’s acting Town Clerk, Hosiah Chisango, has suspended officials suspected of inflating prices of material used in the capital’s ongoing fight against cholera, which has killed 30 people, the municipality announced on Monday.
The move to suspend the officials followed revelations by Econet Wireless founder and chairman, Strive Masiyiwa, that some municipal staff and suppliers were inflating prices of key products in a bid to defraud Econet Wireless, which last week put up $10 million to help fight the cholera outbreak ravaging Harare.
“Harare acting Town Clerk, Engineer Hosiah Chisango, this morning suspended some officials suspected of inflating prices for goods and services to be used in the fight against cholera,” the municipality said in a statement posted on Twitter.
“Engineer Chisango has since informed Mayor Herbert Gomba and relevant stakeholders.”
So far, 30 people have died from the waterborne disease since the current outbreak began at the beginning of this month. Government, which has declared an emergency in Harare, has called out for help from the private sector.
Econet, the country’s biggest telecommunications company, which is also the largest listed stock on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, has made the highest corporate contribution to the cholera fight thus far.
In a Facebook post on Monday morning, Masiyiwa charged that vultures were circling around Econet’s largesse.
“One of the saddest things that happened last week when Econet announced that it had set aside $10 million to help with support to buy medicines and materials, was the number of suppliers, and even officials in some of the affected municipalities who tried to defraud our company by offering things at highly inflated prices!” Masiyiwa wrote.
“Gloves worth $3 were suddenly worth $65! That is just so pathetic! I have told my people to prepare lists of anyone who willfully tries to exploit the situation. After this crisis is over, we will go after them on this platform. Naming and shaming them.”
In 2015, Econet ordered its suppliers to cut their prices by 15%. This was after the company had cut its own costs, including salaries.
At the time, Econet believed that some suppliers were taking advantage of it by charging the company a premium for goods and services.