By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
10 March 2014
The scandal-ridden Harare City Council has announced a massive downsizing exercise which will see ten directors sharing $3million as part of their retrenchment package, along with about 1,000 other workers being paid out.
The move comes after revelations that top managers were earning mega-salaries, with a single director taking home a salary that could pay as many as 227 low earning council workers. According to the Herald newspaper, councillor Wellington Chikombo, who chairs the human resources committee, said the outgoing directors were likely to be given a year’s salary each.
Chikombo said the exercise, which has seen the council collapsing several departments, will also see the retrenchment of 1,190 workers including 10 middle managers. The new Town House structure will comprise the departments of Corporate Services, Finance, Health, Human Resources and Works. Housing and community services and the Chamber Secretary’s office will now form the corporate services department while engineering services, waste management and urban planning will now fall under the department of works.
Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba, said the restructuring exercise is more of a ‘panicky reaction’ to allegations of corruption at Town House than it is a well thought out cost-cutting measure. Shumba said: ‘Incompetent directors and workers will just receive a lot of money and leave the local authority with its many problems.’ Shumba said the exercise was also being driven by ‘malice’ with complaints that some people were being targeted for retrenchment because of their outspokenness.
Since the revelations on directors’ ‘corrupt salaries’ public anger has heightened with residents linking poor service delivery in the city to Town House. Last week, the Combined Harare Residents Association reported nine cases of typhoid in the twin suburbs of Mabvuku and Tafara and blamed the council of ‘keeping a lid’ on the outbreak. The pressure group said Town House was keen to keep the crisis unreported because it stood to ‘cast light on their corruption and dishonesty.’
Speaking to SW Radio Africa on Monday Shumba said typhoid has ‘never been fully eradicated’ from the twin suburbs. He said as long as the council did not improve the water situation the disease will continue to wreak havoc in the area.
Shumba’s comments follow reports that officials at Town House may have swindled part of the $144 million loan meant for the rehabilitation of water and drainage systems. According to reports, officials looted more than $100 million through inflating equipment prices for the loan obtained from China. The council entered into a loan agreement with the Export and Import Bank of China for the refurbishment of water treatment and sewage plants.