Innocent Ruwende and Lovemore Meya—
Council bosses who disregarded Government’s directive to cut their salaries to $9 000 will pay back the money, while councillors and mayors of performing rural and urban councils will be rewarded, Secretary for Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Engineer George Mlilo has said. Government issued the directive on salary caps last October.
Some local authority bosses are still earning hefty salaries of up to $27 000 per month. Addressing councillors and mayors in Harare yesterday, Eng Mlilo said some local authorities were still paying themselves salaries above those stipulated by the Government.
“If we do the audit and find that you mayors who received that communication from Government with that instruction you have not implemented it, we are heading on a collision course. We are discussing whether to get a back pay to redress that overpayment that took place from October. If you continued paying your hefty salaries after October, you got to pay it back. It belongs to the residents.”
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He said all allowances paid outside the stipulated figures belonged to service delivery. “This meeting is a blessing in disguise. Go back and demand the correct levels of pay. The idea was to try and confuse the Cabinet decision. I am bound to go by Cabinet and cannot make any changes. “The capping we gave you in October clearly stated that all other local allowances were included in that amount. If you still find a local authority paying outside the cap, it is in violation of the order.”
Eng Mlilo said councils should realise that the multi-currency regime meant salaries were supposed to be rationalised. “We did write to each local authority giving them a guide line to say how much the top officer should earn, cascading it down to the lowest paid. After realising the effects of cascading it down, the senior officers deliberately cut all salaries including the cleaner’s realising the idea would encourage an uprising. We quickly wrote and said cascade down but anyone below the poverty datum line do not touch,” he said.
Meanwhile under the new performance based allowance structure, mayors and councillors of local authorities who collect more revenue would receive more allowances. Harare collected $170 million last year of which $119 (70 percent) was for service delivery and from the remainder (30 percent) councillors received 2, 25 percent.
This means Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni who was getting $450, will now pocket $1 323, while rural local authorities mayors and councillors will get six percent of the revenue. Most councillors and mayors of local authorities allowances, however, will remain unchanged as they are underperforming and using the new structure, some will get less than $80.
Mayor Manyenyeni said the allowances they received were just to cover the cost of being mayor. “These are service assignments. They are not jobs. They are not businesses. We can never be expecting remuneration for what we are doing. It is just some contributions towards the cost of being in office.” Commenting on the issue of revenue collection, which the city collected 46 percent last year translating to $170 million, Clr Manyenyeni said they had put measures in place to increase revenue collection.
“The engagement must be energised, the residents of any city must respect that the city can only provide what they fund for, we have no shareholders, dividend policy, profit motive, our duty is to use what we receive in servicing our municipal obligations,” he said.