By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
10 February, 2014
The Mayor of Harare may have been pressured to comply with a directive from the Local Government Minister, Ignatius Chombo, which ordered him to reinstate the suspended Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi.
Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni said “it became necessary” to go against his original decision to suspend Mahachi but added that he was “obviously not happy” he had done so. The mayor would not be drawn to discuss the reasons why it had become necessary, but admitted there were things he could not say and that were “not possible to tell the whole world”.
He added: “Tell all the stakeholders that nothing has changed and their support should not disappear. We had to do what we had to do and expect those who sympathize with the decisions and what needed to be done to continue doing so.”
Manyenyeni suspended Mahachi in January after the town clerk failed to comply with a Council resolution to provide the salaries and benefits schedule of all Harare City Council senior employees, including his own.
The suspension was intended to facilitate investigations into Mahachi’s conduct, as well as the finances of the Harare Council. But just two days later Chombo ordered the Mayor to re-instate him.
Acting as a resident of Harare, angry lawyer Tawanda Zhuwarara approached the High Court seeking an order declaring Chombo’s directive illegal. Through his lawyer Bellinda Chinowawa, he argued that Chombo’s powers in terms of the Urban Councils Act only applied to the Council, and not to Mayoral decisions.
But Zhuwarara was not aware that Mayor Manyenyeni had already ordered Mahachi back to work “with immediate effect”, and the High Court on Friday dismissed his application, citing the Mayor’s compliance as reason for dismissal.
Meanwhile, Robert Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba, was back in the news again with fresh allegations that he had lied about his salary as a board member at the shamed Premier Services Medical Aid Society (PSMAS).
After being exposed, Charamba claimed that he was the least paid person on the eight-member board. But it has emerged he was actually one of the highest paid, earning over $100,000 last year.
According to the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper, Charamba’s board payments ranked fourth highest at the medical aid society, with the highest earner being board member George Chaburuka, who made over $200,000.
And as the salary scandals continue it has also emerged that the suspended Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation chief executive officer, Happison Muchechetere, also paid himself $90,000 in yearly bonuses.
This was in addition to the monthly $40,000 salary he was earning, while workers at ZBC went without wages for seven months, according to the Daily News on Sunday newspaper.
The issue of exorbitant salaries being paid to government employees and executives at parastatals has dominated the headlines in the last few weeks, with the state-run media exposing several senior ZANU PF chefs in salary scandals that have shocked many struggling Zimbabweans.
The development is widely seen as the result of infighting within ZANU PF, with one faction using the media to de-campaign the other.