Mzuzu City Council (MCC) has spent around K10.5 million for a rented car which its mayor has been using since June last year, The Sunday Times has established.
The council was renting the vehicle for the mayor at around K1.5 million per month.
The rentals were even higher when the mayor travelled long distances to attend meetings among others.
Mzuzu City Mayor Gift Desire Nyirenda, who has been on the position for close to a month now, confirmed the outstanding bill and monthly expenditure.
Describing the expenditure as exorbitant, Nyirenda said he has surrendered the vehicle to the owner Friday last week.
He said he could not keep the vehicle which was draining resources from the council, which is currently struggling to pay its employees.
“My decisions are supposed to be done in line with the current financial status for the council. If I make bad decisions, it will come back to me. There is no way I should be using this vehicle while some of our employees have not yet received their salary. That is doing injustice to the council,” Nyirenda said.
He said he will be using his motorcycle for official assignments or jump in some people’s personal vehicles.
MCC Public Relations Officer Macdonald Gondwe described the development as a surprise, saying the mayor and his deputy are entitled to official vehicles.
However, Gondwe commended Nyirenda for the decision, adding the savings will be channelled towards other services for residents.
“We commend him for looking at Mzuzu first before his desires,” he said.
MCC Chief Executive Officer Gomegzani Nyasulu recently told journalists in Mzuzu that the council requested central government to bail them out from its K1.7 billion debts, adding government showed interest to assist.
He said within the bailout, the council requested for vehicles including those for waste management.
Some companies, institutions and individuals owe MCC close to K2 billion in city rates and ground rates among other bills.