Council blows $1m in overtime allowances

BULAWAYO - The Bulwayo City Council has blown nearly $1 million in overtime allowances in one month at a time when residents have been challenging city officials over deteriorating service delivery.

In February, council paid 34 times more in overtime payments for a single department where the overtime bill rose from $12 941.06 to $448 890.20 paid the previous month.

Latest council minutes indicate overtime allowances have been soaring to unsustainable levels since December last year, in a move that has outraged residents and raised questions over council’s skewed priorities.

From the overtime paid in February, the housing and community service department consumed the largest amount of $448 890.20 up from $12 941.06 the previous month, according to council minutes per department.

This is followed by the chamber secretary’s department which consumed $297 176.11 in overtime payments up from $159 142.95 the previous month.

Other departments which contributed to the huge overtime bill totalling more than $800 000 include the financial services, health services, engineering services and the town clerk’s departments.

“Overtime incurred by departments for the month of February 2014 which includes weekend duties for staff in the security section and plumbers who attend to burst pipes, cut off teams, fire and ambulances crews and rangers amounted to $872 841,98,” reads part of the minutes.

However, in January the council paid a total of $234 648, 36 in overtime allowances almost four times less the February bill.

The ballooning overtime payment bill comes hard on the back of an annual budget on overtime allowances of $4,23 million.

Lately, the council’s wage bill hovers above $2 million every month.

The minutes also indicate that the council’s major expenditure is on salaries and allowances, general expenditure, repairs and maintenance while rates, supplementary charges and water remain the major sources of income.

Bulawayo mayor Martin Moyo attributed the massive increase on overtime allowances to a job freeze undertaken by the local authority in light of the current liquidity crunch.

“I cannot say offhand the reason but it has been simply because of a job freeze. Instead of an authorised establishment of over 5 000 employees we currently, have 3 000 which means we have a shortfall of more than 2 000 employees,” Moyo told the Daily News.

“So that is the main source of this huge bill. We have some people who are supposed to go on leave but they are on duty because of the shortage of staff. For instance where we need six people you would realise there are only two and as you may be aware the overtime rate is generally high.”

The mayor said curbing the soaring allowances depended on the improvement of the economic situation.

“As long as the liquidity crunch is upon us it will be very difficult for us to make improvements in that regard,” Moyo said.

The government stipulated ratio for use of council funds is 70 percent service delivery and 30 percent salaries but on many occasions the local authority has failed to meet that requirement.

Speaking to the Daily News ward 4 councillor Silas Chigora who has been always vocal about escalating overtime allowances in the council meetings questioned the logic behind it.

“It is shocking that the council continues to lose a lot of money through payment of overtime.

“have been raising this issue for the past three months but no one seems to care,” Chigora said.

“How can overtime be allowed to rise from $234 000 that is sustainable to an unsustainable figure of more than $873 000? Where then is the control of council officials? While we acknowledge that there are some departments which cannot do without overtime but still the cost has to be managed?”

Chigora said that the money should be channelled towards service delivery in the city.

“It is really unacceptable for the cost to keep on growing to such astronomic figures.

“We are talking of nearly a million dollars and how much does a refuse compactor, grader or a jet patcher cost for the sake of our messed up roads,” he said.

Comments (3)

Mr Mayor, that one million would be able to pay the 2000 employee you retrenched $500 per month rather than overwork those ones and give them such huge overtimes. That would also help families of people who are jobless.

dee - 13 May 2014

Well said Dee.Imagine what that 1million could have done for other people. Usually in such situations if you scratch a little deeper you'll uncover massive underhand dealings going on. This can not be allowed to carry on, an investigation needs to be conducted immediately.

Dr Know - 13 May 2014

Crisis of leadership and governance.

Galore 123 - 14 May 2014

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