By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
30 January 2014
Harare Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi has become the latest public official to be suspended over the salaries saga, in a move seen as part of the ZANU PF government’s attempt to spruce up its image, as well as an indication of factional in-fighting.
Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni suspended Mahachi onThursday, for a period of three months, after the town clerk failed to provide the salary and benefits schedule of all Harare City Council senior employees, including his own. But it was revealed in press reports that the salaries of Mahachi and 18 other senior managers totalled $500,000 a month. A Thursday NewsDay report said just one director’s salary of $37,000 was enough to pay the wages of 227 low-earning council workers.
On Tuesday Manyenyeni revealed at a press conference that ‘presidential interest’ in the salaries issue began to ‘weigh in’, in December 2013.
The revelations are part of the ongoing expose of top public executives’ salaries. ZBC chief executive Happison Muchechetere was the first to go on ‘forced leave’ after it was revealed that he was earning a monthly salary of $40,000. Premier Services Medical Aid Society boss Cuthbert Dube was Monday forced to retire, after it was revealed that he was earning $230,000 a month.
Civil society activists have been quick to say these revelations are part of the ZANU PF government’s attempt to clean up its image by appearing to be stamping out corruption.
The Harare Residents Trust said it is in ‘no doubt’ that ‘corporate theft and the looting of public resources has the blessing of government officials.’ A statement from the pressure group said that rather than be surprised by these revelations the public must be ‘angry at being taken for granted’ by public officials.
But as most of the revelations have been made by the state media, analysts also see the on-going revelations of parastatal mega-salaries as a manifestation of ZANU PF’s in-fighting.
SW Radio Africa correspondent Lionel Saungweme said most of the people affected by the purported clampdown on salary scams belong to a faction led by vice president Joice Mujuru. Saungweme said ‘a trend has been set’ where the faction led by justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, could claim that it is ‘morally upright and the other one is corrupt.’
Muchechetere is said to be a friend of former information minister Webster Shamu, while the suspended Harare Town Clerk is known to be friends with local government minister Ignatius Chombo. Both Shamu and Chombo belong to the Mujuru faction.
Saungweme said the fact that the Herald newspaper was spearheading the campaign against the salary scams showed that the whole thing was about factionalism. The Herald is routinely used by ZANU PF factions to settle scores.
On Thursday the paper heaped all the blame for the Town House salaries saga on Mahachi. In a particularly vitriolic attack the paper urged the government to ‘throw all muck at him’ and further accused him of leading a ‘venal clique that cannibalizes the city.’