The Harare City Council has used more than half of the revenue it collected between January and July this year towards wages, as its capacity to effectively collect revenue has been affected by Covid-19.
The council is also paying salaries to at least 40 top and middle management employees, in addition to a host of junior employees, who are on suspension for various reasons, with some having cases pending in the courts for alleged corrupt activities.
The situation is made worse by that most the posts left by the suspended employees have been filled on an acting capacity by others drawing the same salaries and benefits with those at home.
This double payment of salaries and benefits could be taking a huge toll on the management of revenue by the city council.
The effects of the salary bill is likely to manifest in council struggling to provide basic services to residents like garbage collection, water provision and neglect of burst sewer and water pipes.
A letter written by acting human capital director Mr Bozman Matengarufu on Wednesday last week to the chairman of the Employment Council for Harare Municipal Undertaking showed the city collected $5 billion revenue between January and July this year.
Of this money, more than $2,5 billion went towards meeting the wage bill.
Mr Matengarufu indicated that the capacity of the city council to collect revenue had been drastically diminished by Covid-19 as it had projected a potential revenue of more than $15 billion within the seven months.
In January, the salary bill was 93 percent of the collected revenue, 83 percent in February, 47 percent in March, 50 percent in April, 44 percent in May, 40 percent in June and 50 percent in July.
“For the period under review, the City of Harare only managed to collect 32 percent or $5 billion out of a total potential revenue of $15,4 billion,” said Mr Matengarufu.
“Salary payments accounted for 50 percent of the total revenue collected.”
Mr Matengarufu rejected a proposal for a salary increment by the workers, arguing that the increase would result in the city council incurring a budget deficit of $726 million.
“As shown above, the current wage bill consumes half of the revenue collected, he said. “It is impractical to implement another increase when the revenue has not been improved. It is critical to note that the council is struggling to collect revenue during the Covid-19 period.
“As a result, the employer is unable to offer anything until revenue collection improves. It is proposed that we meet every quarter to assess our budgetary performance and that will guide any salary adjustments.”
Top city directors on suspension are Town Clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango, Mr Stanely Ndemera (finance director), Mr Addmore Nhekairo (housing director), Engineer Zvenyika Chawatama (works director) and Charles Kandemiri (chamber secretary).
Only health services director Dr Prosper Chonzi is substantively in office.