Source: Council top brass in ‘Salarygate’ storm | The Herald January 17, 2020
Blessings Chidakwa Municipal Correspondent
Harare City Council senior managers reportedly secretly quadrupled their salaries, instead of a proposed 50 percent increment, angering councillors who have called for the immediate reversal of this followed by negotiations for a uniform pay rise for all staff.
The least-paid municipal worker will be getting $1 100 a month, while the top bosses will be pocketing between $22 000 and $33 000 a month.
Following the new salary changes, Town Clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango will be pocketing $33 000 a month, directors $28 000 and other managers $22 000.
According to a leaked document, Eng Chisango’s salary was increased to $32 912, including a stationery and education allowance of $2 904, while directors were in the range of $25 000 to $28 000.
Human resources and general purposes committee chairperson Councillor Jacob Mafume yesterday said councillors were taken aback to learn about the 300 percent salary hike that quadrupled the top brass’ pay.
“We have not been able to increase any salary,” he said. “There is a proposal from management which is nowhere near such a figure of 300 percent. The basic salary was to be increased by 50 percent.
“We can only adjust the salaries by providing cushioning for all council employees which we have been doing as per need. We will look at the proposals and see whether they make sense in the current environment.
“And like we have been doing with all employees where the lowest is now earning $1 100, we hope revenues are increasing so we can offer a living wage.”
Eng Chisango was not answering his mobile phone following several attempts to get hold of him. He also did not respond to text messages.
Harare’s acting corporate communications manager Mr Innocent Ruwende refused to be drawn into the matter, instead referring all questions to Clr Mafume.
Zimbabwe Combined Residents’ Association president Mr McSteven Nyabvure raised a red flag over senior managers’ decision to secretly increase their salaries without council approval.
“The managers should instead prioritise offering quality services, rather than salary hikes,” he said. “We understand things are hard, but the salary increases should be done across the board, not for selected individuals.”
Sources within council said the managers and councillors were now at loggerheads, with some councillors calling for Eng Chisango’s sacking.
“Some councillors want Eng Chisango fired as they allege that he is incompetent and undermining their authority,” said a source.
During the last full council meeting, councillors took a swipe at management for failing to improve service delivery.
They said management was toothless after failing to remove illegal pirate taxis that were operating in Town House’s backyard.
Meanwhile, the 15 refuse trucks bought by Harare City Council in South Africa are still stuck there almost three years on, as the council cannot raise over US$2 million required for their delivery.
But there are conflicting figures on the amount required for delivery of the trucks, with council claiming that US$3,3 million was needed, while the supplier says US$2,4 million is all that is required.
The 15 trucks holed up across the Limpopo River are part of the 30 compactors bought by the local authority from automotive manufacturer, FAW Group Corporation.
Harare’s indifferent approach in taking delivery of the trucks when it was facing a shortage has raised suspicions among some that there could be a deliberate ploy by some council officials to continue delaying the process so that companies they contracted to collect refuse in some areas continue to benefit.
Others question why council was not using the money it was collecting for refuse to source the foreign currency required to import the trucks.
The acquisition of the refuse trucks has been mired in controversy after revelations that council may have already been prejudiced of about US$228 000 after it took delivery of 10 single-skip trucks instead of double-skip trucks it had ordered from FAW Zimbabwe.
A standard single-skip truck in South Africa, where the trucks were sourced, costs about R400 000 (US$28 700), while a double-skip truck costs R800 000 (US$57 500).
Mr Ruwende yesterday said money billed for refuse collection was not meant for capital projects.
“The trucks are 15 and they are with the suppliers, not at the border,” he said. “In terms of capital projects, they are not funded by rates as there are huge figures involved.”
Mr Ruwende said council had enough Zimbabwean dollars to buy the required US dollars for delivery of the trucks which they paid to FAW Zimbabwe, but foreign currency challenges remained an issue.
“Government has been assisting us with various projects and we have been engaging it over the matter,” he said.
Asked if council was pinning their hopes on a customs rebate, Mr Ruwende said: “We will only get a rebate when the trucks are at the border.”
FAW Zimbabwe operations director Mr Patrick Masocha confirmed council’s position.
“The arrangement was that RBZ would avail forex, but so far we have only received $900 000, which was paid for the 20 trucks that were delivered,” he said. “The other 15 trucks are at our plant and we took council officials there to see them.”
Mr Masocha said there was no bad blood between them and Harare City Council due to the delays in the delivery of the trucks, as the situation was beyond both parties.