Local Government deputy minister Sesil Zvidzai on Wednesday put himself on a collision course with Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda over the proposed slashing of pay for senior municipal employees who earn huge salaries and allowances.
Masunda has said it would be illegal to review downwards employees’ salaries but Zvidzai says failure to heed that government directive would be a display of “unusual bravery”.
Speaking at a function organised by the Democratic Councils’ Forum (Demcof) at the Civic Centre in Masvingo, Zvidzai said the slashing of salaries was a government directive that no one dared to oppose.
“I do not perceive anyone resisting the order. They should be very brave to ignore that directive,” said Zvidzai.
Senior council officials such as town clerks earn salaries as high as $15 000 and enjoy allowance packages surpassing many blue chip company directors.
It has also emerged that most councils were not following a government directive that 70% of their revenue should go towards service delivery while not more than 30% goes to salaries.
Government investigations uncovered that councils were employing the directive in reverse form, where salaries and allowances chewed more than 70% of council revenue while service delivery had collapsed at most local authorities.
“Local authorities should not be inflation breeders,” Zvidzai said yesterday. “Utilities are pushing costs when salaries for civil servants remain stagnant.
“The cabinet initiative to leave only 30 percent of total revenue for salaries is not about fighting individuals.
We want the benefit to trickle down to people either in increased service delivery or reduced service charges.”
The minister said in two weeks time, government would implement the directive (to slash salaries) after considering employment costs, doing regional comparatives and then categorising salaries and perks for council management depending on the revenue they received per month.
Big cities like Harare and Bulawayo would fall in the same bracket, while smaller cities, towns and municipalities and rural district councils would be pegged differently.
Speaking at the same function, Demcof executive director Last Maengahama urged councilors to shun corruption and live within their means.
More than 80 councillors from Chiredzi, Bikita, Zaka, Chivi, Gutu Masvingo rural district councils, as well as Masvingo Town Council, attended the function, which also saw the election of the Demcof Masvingo chapter.