HARARE – The new Local Government minister, July Moyo, has promised to recognise the full autonomy of Harare City Council (HCC) and will not interfere with the process of selecting the new town clerk.
This was disclosed by Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni while he addressed a press conference at Town House yesterday.
Manyenyeni bemoaned the interferences into council’s affairs by former Local Government ministers — Ignatius Chombo and Saviour Kasukuwere — saying their overplaying hands contributed significantly to the dire state of affairs at Town House, which is currently running on autopilot after several attempts to recruit a substantive town clerk were repeatedly thwarted by Kasukuwere.
Kasukuwere, who was allegedly part of a Zanu PF faction which sought to control the levers of power in the party and country before it was mercilessly decimated in a military intervention last month, is believed to be living in self-imposed exile.
Manyenyeni recently suspended acting town clerk Josephine Ncube and three other directors at the metropolis for disobeying a government directive to regularise their hefty salaries.
Such previous attempts had been thwarted by Kasukuwere.
Kasukuwere also reversed the appointment of former NMB boss Luke Mushore’s appointment as Tendai Mahachi’s replacement arguing that council had violated provisions of the Urban Councils Act when it proceeded to appoint Mushore without consulting him or the shadowy Local Government Board in 2015.
HCC has had to redo the process, but still Kasukuwere had vowed to impede on the appointment of Hatfield legislator Tapiwa Mashakada, who had aced interviews for the job on the basis that he was a “career politician who was not suitable for the lucrative $112 000 per year job.
“I am encouraged by the new brooms at the ministry, both the minister and his permanent secretary George Magosvongwe. We are banking on their perceived professionalism to allow us to conclude this overdue matter,” said the mayor.
“This town clerk matter is crucial for the next mayor because our residents do not know or care about a mayor being non-executive. They just want things done.”
Manyenyeni also said the immediate task of the new town clerk would not only be to regularise executive perks, but also revisit salaries of lower raking officials which remain obscene.
“It is not a secret that our manpower costs are killing council. Let it be shared that the executive costs are only three percent of the total costs; even the lower costs are two to five times the costs carried by other employers for similar jobs. I will indicate that a municipal guard costs the city $1 057 while a ZRP officer costs just over $400 per month, which is 2,5 times more. A council nursing sister costs the city $1 527 while a government nursing sister costs just over $500, which is three times more. A private clinic sister earns between $500 and $1 000.
“All this translates to nearly $10 million going towards remuneration from the $12 to $13 million collected per month. The biggest elephant in the room is our salary costs. No employer wants unhappy workers, but to be in a state of denial does not help matters.
“Political will to fix this has been missing because the two main political parties represented in council have strong labour backing. If we do not bite the bullet to fix big problems, we are going to be embarrassed by little things. We cannot be proud of the city which runs out of diesel or bond paper. I had a meeting with the minister yesterday at which the ministry expressed its desire to see the matter concluded with speed,” said the mayor.