Riot police yesterday broke up a demonstration at Town House in Harare organised by several residents’ groups which were protesting against astronomical salaries that the city’s top managers continue to award themselves.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
After successive years of milking local authorities, Cabinet issued a directive in 2014 putting a cap on salaries for local authorities’ bosses.
Top council executives also received unbudgeted allowances that saw the city losing hundreds of thousands of dollars that could have been channelled to service delivery.
Last week, mayor Bernard Manyenyeni suspended acting town clerk Josephine Ncube over the scam.
Determined residents on Monday deposed a petition at the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), urging the anti-graft body to take action against the culprits.
Yesterday, scores of placard-waving protesters representing six organisations – among them Residents’ Forum, Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ) and Tajamuka – stormed Town House demanding to hand over their petition to Manyenyeni.
However, one of the co-ordinators, George Makoni of CCDZ, was arrested by the police while presenting the petition to Manyenyeni. Police then ordered other protesters to leave. Makoni was reportedly later fined $10 for criminal nuisance before being released.
Although Manyenyeni said he had no problem with residents expressing their views, the police would have none of it as more reinforcements came to deal with the protesters.
He told journalists that people should be given a chance to air their views promising to get back to the petitioners with responses.
“Every transaction that involves money in council should be transparent. We don’t want corruption,” Manyenyeni said.
“We will look for their representatives (co-ordinators) so that we give them responses on the grievances. We were not elected to come and do corrupt activities or to supervise corruption on management. We don’t support corruption, the city is for all of us and all we are trying to do is to bring transparency.”
He said council would start engaging external consultancies to process council salaries.
In the petition, the demonstrators demanded city fathers to investigate alleged corrupt activities and politicisation of land distribution by November 31.
They also demanded that council should come up with a plan of action to address poor service delivery, “obscene” salaries for top management, the plight of vendors and demolition of houses.