LOCAL Government, Public Works and National Housing minister Ignatius Chombo has made sweeping changes at the Harare City Council, while at the same time reversing a decision by mayor Bernard Manyenyeni to suspend Town Clerk, Tendai Mahachi.
BY PATRICE MAKOVA
Mahachi was on Thursday suspended for three months for failure to implement a council resolution to avail the executive salary schedule for Town House managers.
Chombo yesterday summoned Manyenyeni, Mahachi, Wellington Chikombo, chairperson of the Human Resources committee, deputy mayor Thomas Muzuva and Human Capital director, Cainos Chingombe for a crisis meeting to discuss squabbles between the city fathers and Town House executives.
He told journalists after the meeting that Mahachi would now go back to work after apologising to Manyenyeni for disobeying his directive to provide information and documents required by councillors.
Manyenyeni however, tried to protest Mahachi’s reinstatement, arguing his case needed further investigation.
But Chombo overruled him saying a letter was on its way to the mayor reversing his decision.
“The Mayor wanted to fire him [Mahachi] but I said no,” Chombo said. “I told him to give him conditions which he has to meet and fire him later if he fails to deliver.”
For years now, Chombo has been accused of interfering with the running of local authorities, especially the MDC-T led councils.
However, Chombo yesterday read the Riot Act to city managers for defying and undermining the authority of the mayor.
He said the mayor was the political principal in Harare and Mahachi and other managers have an obligation to respect and obey him.
“They must render unequivocal support to the mayor. I do not expect the Town Clerk to refuse with requested documents,” said Chombo.
He said there was no justification for Town House managers to keep their salaries a secret, yet remunerations for President Robert Mugabe and his cabinet were public information.
Chombo said Mahachi’s reported salary of over US$37 000 has been slashed to US$14 847 plus US$2 500 housing allowance.
He said this followed wide consultations made by Manyenyeni and Chingombe.
Chombo and Chingombe tried to downplay reports that Mahachi and his 18-member management team were collectively taking home close to US$500 000 in monthly salaries. They were at pains to explain the contents of the document with the salary figures which was leaked to the media. They said the figures in the document reflected backpays and not actual monthly salaries.
Chombo said Mahachi would no longer get a number of allowances, including those for entertainment, holiday and schools fees for children. He said previously Mahachi was getting unlimited fuel, but this would now change.
He said the slashing of salaries and allowances would affect all council workers. Chombo said similar measures were being implemented in all other rural and urban councils throughout the country.