Harare City council loses millions in ‘careless handling’ of legal battles

City of Harare unnecessarily   lost millions of dollars through wantonly absconding court hearings of cases filed against them resulting in  default judgments being handed down, Zim Morning Post has learnt.

According to court documents at hand,  Harare City council has been reluctant to defend cases filed against them in courts.

“The City of Harare is just reluctant whenever they are served with summons to appear at court and respond to cases which could have been filed against them, they do not come and courts end up giving default judgements,” said an insider at Town House.

Court papers reveal that in 2017, the cash strapped council lost $700 000 in default judgments.

In 2018, the City of Harare which is struggling to raise chemicals for water treatment lost $1 million in legal battles that they carelessly handled.

The cases range from labour wrangles and some lawsuits filed as a result of decisions made by management without due diligence.

“Sometimes managers just dismiss people for coming to work late and the employees will opt to go to the labour courts where council will not send legal representatives and they end up losing those matters and paying damages,” said an insider.

According to our source, motorists and pedestrians are now taking the advantage of  the city fathers’ laxity in handling legal cases prayed against them.

“Motorists are now aware that council does not send any defence or heads of argument in court and judges are left with no option but to pass default judgments in matters that could have come out in council’s favour,” added the insider.

Harare Metropolitan Residents Forum (HAMREF)- a consortium of Harare Residents Associations  chairperson Marvelous Khumalo said that they have noted a trend where council fails to defend themselves in courts.

“It is worrying that Harare City council is reluctant when it comes to defend cases in courts and losing a big amount of money and at the end of the day failing to buy water chemicals,” said Khumalo.

Harare City Council head of corporate affairs Michael Chideme however professed ignorance over any case that they have absconded  court or submit their defence.

“I am not aware of any default judgement against council where we failed to attend court.

“This has not been brought to my attention if ever we have such I am happy to be given such cases so that I take action and correct the practice if any,” said Chideme.