Residents demand cut in council workforce

Harare residents are demanding an immediate overhaul and trimming of Harare City Council’s workforce of more than 10,300 employees, which they allege is full of ghost workers.

Tendai Mahachi
Tendai Mahachi

The calls come in the wake of the suspension of town clerk Tendayi Mahachi following revelations that 18 top council management officials are bleeding the organisation with salaries and perks of more than $500,000 a month, while lower workers wallow in poverty.

Informed sources in the council say 70 per cent of the salary budget is paying for around 65 senior managers at grade one to four. Thousands of workers from grade five to 16 share the remainder.

Harare Residents’ Trust director, Precious Shumba, said the structure of the council was bloated.

“Service continues to collapse, roads are heavily potholed, water delivery is inconsistent in 60 per cent of the suburbs of Harare, waste management and refuse collection is chaotic. Millions of dollars are diverted, depriving communities of essential services while revenue inflows are very low,” he said.

He added that salaries of council staff should be linked to the revenue sources and the capacity of the council to raise the revenue from those sources.

“Since the inception of the inclusive government, the Trust has repeatedly demanded an overhaul of the council’s establishment and disclosure of salaries. All our efforts have failed to yield the desired results,” said Shumba.

“Senior council management at Town House made it extremely difficult for either councillors or residents to have the full salary schedule for the council, including the secret payroll that they’ve hidden to facilitate looting of public funds,” he said.

Golden Mabwe, a New Marlborough resident, said cutting the workforce would improve services and efficiency.

“The reason why council is currently failing to pay workers on time is that there are just too many of them. If they trim by 50 per cent, it would see improvement of services because revenues could be used on projects that have a bearing on people’s lives,” he said.

The Combined Harare Residents’ Association chair, Simbarashe Moyo, said staff cuts should start with the directors.

“Harare council does not need 18 managers to run city departments. Prior to the year 2000, when water woes were alien to this city, Harare had just seven directors.”

The council last year proposed a budget of $291m, which is yet to be approved by the minister of local government.

“In view of the proposed budget, this means that top managers will gobble $6m in salaries before we take account of the salaries being given to middle managers and the rest of workers,” said Moyo.

He added that, although council reportedly did an audit to ascertain its workforce, the details were not publicised.

“It is difficult to comment on the number of ghost workers now, as details of the audit on human resources has been kept as a secret. We believe the first step is to reduce the number of directors to seven,” he said.

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