On Tuesday, parliamentarians were treated to some tearful drama by Chitungwiza town clerk George Makunde. The town clerk is the highest paid individual in the employ of Chitungwiza City Council.
He had his salary recently cut by order of government from $10 000 per month to $4 500. This is what the drama was about.
Makunde was with the town mayor Philip Mutoti and other directors from Chitungwiza municipality when he made his weepy presentation to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.
“My salary, madam chair, I want this put on record…. I only got $10 000 monthly,” Makunde said while making an emotional plea for the reversal or review of the salary cut.
The town clerk sought to plead with the hearts of Zimbabweans, through the legislators, to feel for him in the face of the “trauma” and “hardships” that he had been thrown into by the reduction of his salary to “a mere $4 500” per month.
He described $4 500 as an amount of money one could not live on!
“After the government directive sometime last year, my salary was reduced to $4 500. . . this is the money I am getting even today, all inclusive. But, madam chair, let this be known that that amount, in all fairness, does not match the salary I deserve. I don’t want to be emotional about this, but I want to state facts as they are.
“…Imagine you have a family and you have to tell your child that we are unable to pay your school fees because my salary has been reduced, think of the emotional trauma that the child will go through.
It’s very unfortunate,” Makunde said adding: “It is not a living salary…”
Having made his case, praying that the hearts of the authorities be filled with the milk of human kindness, so that his family could be spared the trauma of lifestyle change, Makunde then told the parliamentary committee how broke his council was. He spoke about ordinary workers who earn as little as $100 per month going for as long as one-and-half years without getting their full salaries.
Chitungwiza is struggling to clear a salary backlog of about $17 million, the town clerk said.
The case of Makunde brings to light the mentality of most top office bearers in our country. They think about themselves only and everybody else doesn’t matter. Town clerks, directors and managers at local authorities around the country have been rewarding themselves with obscene salaries that shocked ratepayers when they were divulged.
It is difficult to understand how they feel they are entitled to such luxury, paid for by poor ratepayers when service delivery is virtually nonexistent in some cases.
The water that runs from our taps the few times that it does come, is smelly and dirty, roads have become an unnavigable network of potholes, sewerage flows everywhere, every street corner has become a dumpsite while street lighting has become a luxury long forgotten.
The same goes for chefs at parastatals where top managers demand top-of-the-range vehicles on top of frightful salaries and perks when they are running rotten entities such as the NRZ. Our politicians too, feel justified to live large in five-star hotels while waiting for their demands for exquisite mansions to be met. One wonders what work they would have done to make them feel they deserve this pampering.
This class of people has grown a culture of growing personal wealth by milking poor citizens and then feel shortchanged when, as in Makunde’s case, reality is brought to bear. They get so used to their boundless greed they no longer have the capacity to realise they are dislocating the country.
Even as evidence of their failure to deliver abounds, they still believe they are toiling for their deep pockets and they also believe that the ordinary person who is bearing the brunt of their pillage has not done enough to pull up themselves by their bootstraps — never mind most of them never had the straps, nor the boots.
What these people do not appreciate is that the purpose for their being put in those offices is more for answering a public call for duty rather than a narrow expectation of primitive accumulation.
Zimbabwean leaders have chosen to embrace a carnivorous system that will continue to impoverish citizens of this country. Our leaders are increasingly treating our country as a resource to be used up and then discarded once it falls apart.
Listening to the Makunde show in parliament, and many others like his, one wonders how these men and women who have grown dropping tummies on the sweat of the povo really think they are doing so well when they are presiding over dysfunctional local authorities and untold misery.