Harare yet to slash mega salaries

HARARE - Harare City Council senior management is still earning mega salaries despite a government directive to slash them, it has emerged.

Management is yet to implement a new pay schedule for senior officials whose salaries gobble over $500 000 monthly.

Appearing before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Local Government, Rural and Urban Development yesterday, mayor Bernard Manyenyeni said the local authority was still to get the go-ahead from government to slash the salaries.

Irene Zindi, the chairperson of the committee, wanted to know if the local authority had begun implementing the $6 000 salary cap on chief executives and directors of parastatals.

“We have not slashed salaries as we are waiting for a government directive to that effect because we are made to believe that the issue has not been finalised yet,” Manyenyeni said.

“If other ministries have been favoured with that directive, we hope we will also get it.”

According to the schedule presented to Parliament by the town clerk Tendai Mahachi in February, a Grade 1 employee receives a basic salary of $14 000, a retention and entertainment allowances of $1 400, housing allowance of $4 200, bringing his total earnings to $21 000.

Mahachi is also entitled to one regional holiday and a local one for a six-day period annually with all expenses paid for by council, including out of pocket allowances and other benefits.

Manyenyeni informed legislators that last year’s government directive to write off residents’ debts, which prejudiced council of over $300 million in revenue, had left the local authority broke.

He said the amount which is worth two years’ revenue, had resulted in council failing to pay its workers on time.

“Even residents who used to pay their rates no longer want to pay while those whose bills were written off are now waiting for the 2018 elections to have them written off again,” he said.

Manyenyeni said council was also failing to raise funds to pay retrenched and retired workers as Harare embarks on an exercise to downsize its workforce to match their revenue.

The mayor said the local authority’s financial situation was exacerbated by the fact that it was owed millions of dollars in unpaid rates by government.

“We are owed a lot of money by the University of Zimbabwe, the police and army barracks and even Parliament yet Zimra knocks at our door every Friday demanding $500 000 for our statutory obligations,” Manyenyeni said.

The city father complained that the local authority’s revenue base was dwindling as government had taken over collection of vehicle licence fees which used to be council’s cash cow.

“Zinara does not realise the fact that Harare is the capital city with 5 500km of roads and that it deserves a substantial share of their collections,” said councillor Herbert Gomba, who accompanied the mayor.

Manyenyeni also warned that the local authority’s vision for 2025 was under serious threat owing to the litany of challenges which also included interference from politicians.

“At the moment, council is at its worst because we also have divided loyalty among staff where some report to MPs, others to the minister and so on. That affects service delivery,” Manyenyeni lamented.

He also revealed that the Airport Road deal with Augur Investments which has since been taken over by government prejudiced council as the $80 million charged was way above what it is really worth.

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