WORKERS’ representative bodies have roundly condemned the huge salaries earned by bosses at the Premier Service Medical Aid Society (Psmas) and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) saying they were “immoral” as they were in sharp contrast with the paltry salaries most employees were getting.
BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
It has emerged Psmas chief executive officer, Cuthbert Dube and ZBC boss Happison Muchechetere earned US$230 000 and US$27 000 per month respectively.
At the same time, employees at the national broadcaster went for over six months without pay with Dube as chairman of the ZBC board. At PSMAS, he was getting a salary of US$230 000 per month, which loosely translated to overUS$10 000 per day and about US$1 300 per hour.
The Medical Workers Union (Mpawuz) said it was deeply concerned that some Psmas bosses were taking home as much as US$200 000 in salaries per month.
“This is morally reprehensible considering the meagre Psmas employees are earning,” reads part of the statement from Mpawuz.
The union said there were bound to be other bosses who were still to be exposed, especially in the private sector where salaries were not regulated.
The union said in the face of such huge salaries, it would soon press for salaries no less than US$800 per month for ordinary workers.
“We cannot continue to allow 14 top executives to earn US$1,1 million per month more than the total amount of what hundreds of Psmas employees are earning,” said the union.
Also mired in the salary scam is Psmas’s former finance manager, Ernest Gwinyai who earned a basic salary of US$200 000 a month while group operations executive, Enock Chitekedza was getting US$122 000 per month.
There were eight other senior executives who were earning basic salaries of US$60 000 per month while three middle managers were paid US$30 000, US$22 000 and US$15 000 each.
Pmawuz said if the bosses’ salaries were cut to “reasonable levels” the medical aid society would afford to award its lowest paid employees’ salaries above US$1 200 per month.
Probe parastatal executives’ salaries: ZCTU
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the country’s largest worker representative body, has called on government to institute a probe into salaries of parastatal executives in the country.
“We are calling on the government to start probing salaries of parastatal executives because the case is not only about the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and Psmas, but all parastatals have become looting grounds,” said the union.
It said it was alarmed by the hefty salaries for executives at Psmas considering that the society owed service providers as much as US$38 million.
“Over the years we have been calling for the rationalisation of executive salaries and those of ordinary workers but this has fallen on deaf ears across the industry,” said the labour body.
The union also said the salaries of executives both in the private and public sector must be made public for transparency and accountability.
Independent economist, Christopher Mugaga said it was unfortunate that the executives were awarding themselves such salaries in the face of abject poverty.
“How do you explain a scenario where someone will award himself such unusual levels of salaries in a country where there is a sea of poverty,” said Mugaga. “The honourable thing for Cuthbert Dube to do is to step down from Psmas. I am sure crazy salaries for Dube and Muchechetere are just a tip of the iceberg.”
Civil servants also lashed out at the executives whom they described as selfish and called on the government to adopt salary guidelines.
President of the Public Service Association, Cecilia Alexander said government should closely monitor state enterprises.
“We are disappointed as workers and people who contribute to PSMAS,” she said.
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu said there was urgent need to carry out a complete overhaul of the administration at PSMAS. He said the current administration was “questionable”.
“The issue of salaries needs to be regularised at all public institutions,” said Ndlovu.
PSMAS has since resolved to cut the salaries of Dube and some senior managers.