Harare Town Clerk suspended as residents call for wider salaries probe

The municipality of Harare has suspended its Town Clerk, Tendai Mahachi, for three months over allegations that he failed to discharge his duties and provide councillors with the municipality’s salary schedule as per a council resolution.

Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni today said Mahachi failed or neglected to provide the salary and benefits schedule of senior council employees.

The suspension follows revelations that 18 managers at Town House were taking home a combined $500,000 every month in salaries and allowances. Manyenyeni said that he had notified Local Government Minister, Ignatius Chombo, of the latest development.

HRT Director, Precious Shumba, said in a statement that his organisation had also repeatedly demanded that the salaries of senior management in the City of Harare be fully disclosed to councillors and residents in the interest of public accountability.

“All efforts have failed to yield the desired results as senior council management have made it extremely difficult for either councillors or residents, and other stakeholders to have the full salary schedule for the Harare City Council including the secret payroll that they have hidden, in order to facilitate looting of public funds,” Shumba said.

A full city council meeting held in December had resolved that both Manyenyeni and Mahachi be part of the team that was to investigate how much council’s top management was earning.

Shumba said that senior managers were getting 70 percent of money meant for salaries while thousands of city employees were sharing “a mere 30 percent of the salaries and allowances budget”.

“That is unfair. That is irresponsible and unaccountable management of public affairs,” he said.

The city council has more than 10,300 employees and about 64 managers.

Chombo has said that town clerks must not earn more than $8,000 inclusive of allowances. He has also set up a team to investigate reports that some top local authorities’ employees across the country were depositing their money in offshore accounts.

The Harare Municipal Workers’ Union, Zimbabwe Urban Council Workers’ Union and Water Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe recently condemned the salary structure at the council describing it as a serious financial burden on the city’s finances.

The workers’ unions said that the least paid employee in council gets a basic salary of $163 while directors are getting in excess of $36,999 per month.

Shumba said that the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, in conjunction with Chombo, should widen the probe top cover all local authorities’ senior management salaries, starting with the affairs of the Harare City Council.

“This should serve as a confidence building measure within the market and among the citizenry and all local government stakeholders, and protect the electorate against further abuse of authority and power at the hands of irresponsible and unaccountable council management,” he said.

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