Tribunal completes Harare's 'fat cat' salaries probe


HARARE - The Justice George Smith-led tribunal has completed its probe to decide whether the Harare City Council’s top officials abused power by giving themselves fat cat salaries above government-imposed caps.

Acting town clerk Josephine Ncube, town clerk aspirant and human capital director Cainos Chingombe were suspended by council in December last year to enable investigations into the salary scam, but were reinstated by former Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere. Finance director Tendai Kwenda and health services director Prosper Chonzi have also been implicated in the fat cat salaries scam.

In March 2014, government decreed a cap on the salary and perks for managers of government-owned entities and city council bosses at a total of $72 000 a year. The council bosses vigorously opposed the huge cuts and ignored the decree, with some executives at that time said to be raking in up to half-a-million a year.

A list of salaries of all 180 State-owned firms and city and town councils provided by government showed many managers were evading tax by taking lower basic pay but exorbitant benefits, which were not taxed.

A four-member tribunal established by Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni in March this year started its formal probe to establish if senior Harare city executives, then under the leadership of Tendai Mahachi, siphoned money from the city by paying each other illegal salaries and allowances.

The hearings were closed to the public. According to the latest council minutes, the tribunal has concluded its investigation.

“His Worship, the Mayor (Manyenyeni) reported that the Deputy Mayor (Enock Mupamawonde) and himself had met with the Justice ...Smith Tribunal on executive remuneration. Progress on this matter had been very slow and the panel had raised serious misgivings about the costs of their many professional hours, travel and communication costs. They had requested one final payroll which the human capital director had promised to avail on September 28, 2017,” read part of the minutes.

Manyenyeni said the tribunal had to literally “raid and sit-in at the office of the human capital director” to have the executive salary payroll released.

The tribunal had incessantly complained of a lack of cooperation in releasing the city’s executive payroll.

In a November council meeting, the tribunal argued that the time they had spent trying to get documents from management was too much.

“Some of you will be glad to hear that the tribunal report has been finalised and will be tabled in next (this)  week’s meeting which will be advised as to when it will take place,” Manyenyeni said.