Government scraps allowances for CEOs

Dr. Chombo

Dr. Chombo

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Government has ordered all councils to scrap various benefits their chief executives and chairpersons have been paying themselves.

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Salaries and benefits gobble about 70 percent of local authorities’ revenues.

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The benefits that will be either scrapped or cut include tuition fees for children studying abroad as well as housing, entertainment, club, retention and foreign trip allowances.

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These incentives were introduced during Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation era (2007/8) to retain skilled manpower in key positions but began to chew a huge chunk of revenue after introductions of the multiple currency regime in early 2009.

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Government is now priming councils towards ensuring their budgets emphasise service delivery instead of top officials’ remuneration.

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In 2014, a ceiling of US$8 000 was introduced on Town Clerks’ salaries.

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Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo told The Sunday Mail that the directive had been circulated to all 92 local authorities, and defiant bosses would be fired.

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Dr Chombo would not, however, say how much money council bosses were earning cumulatively in allowances and other benefits.

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“Why do you need a retention allowance? Retention for what? Why should council pay for a person’s holiday or a trip abroad yet people do not have water? So, basically, we are saying most of these benefits are no longer applicable.”

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In his letter to local authorities, the minister said Government would not approve budgets that did not devote at least 70 percent of revenue to service delivery. Only 30 percent should be prescribed for salaries and benefits. He also laid down parameters for performance assessment of all town clerks.

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The letter reads, in part, “The local authorities that have not rationalised their remuneration should provide a roadmap of how they will achieve it, as well as strategies to comply with the poverty datum line. Furthermore, the performance contracts for town clerks are either not forthcoming or submitted without the mayor’s signature.”

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Minister Chombo then told The Sunday Mail that: “If any budget which does not conform to the 70-30 percent ratio (is submitted), I will not approve it. All local authorities have to comply. Those who do not comply will be fired. I could not really tell you the exact figure, but most of these councils were spending more money on salaries at the expense of service delivery. We have put a stop to that. I think the issue of salaries was really not a problem. But most of these authorities were getting unreasonable allowances and this was bleeding our councils at the expense of service delivery.”

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He added: “All local authorities should strive to offer the best services whether small or big. We can’t say because we are in Murombedzi, services must be poor. No. They have submitted their audited accounts to the ministry, save for one or two, but most rural councils are up-to-date. We are facing problems with some urban councils.”

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In 2014, Government slashed the salaries and benefits of town clerks and council chairs by 50 percent and ordered them to submit performance contracts.

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