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.
Mahachi was on Thursday suspended for three months for failure to implement a council resolution to provide council with the executive salary schedule for Town House managers.
Chombo yesterday summoned Manyenyeni, Mahachi, Wellington Chikombo the 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.
“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 had 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.
Under a raft of changes meant to improve service delivery, Chombo said salaries and allowances of directors had been slashed. He said a new and leaner structure had been approved with effect from yesterday. The new structure will see directors being reduced by 50% while 2 000 out of the 9 152-strong municipal workforce is set to be retrenched.
Chingombe, the human capital director, explained that under the new structure the number of directors had been reduced from 15 to six, excluding that of water which will stand on its own.
He said the six directors would head six newly-created departments namely corporate services (to incorporate housing and community services), Finance, Works (to incorporate urban planning and engineering), health services, human resources and public service.
Chombo said Mahachi’s reported salary of over $37 000 had been slashed to $14 847 and $2 500 for housing allowances. He said this followed wide consultations made by Manyenyeni and Chingombe.
The minister and Chingombe tried to downplay reports that Mahachi and his 18-member management team were taking home close to $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 back pays and not actual monthly salaries.
Chombo said Mahachi would no longer get a number of allowances including, entertainment, holiday and school 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.