SOME local authorities in the southern region of the country have disputed figures released as earnings of town clerks by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa showing that some smaller municipalities were paying obscene salaries higher than some cities.
Chinamasa on Tuesday announced that the government had placed a cap on earnings of chief executives of parastatals and municipalities before making their present salaries public.
The breakdown of salaries and benefits released by Chinamasa placed the Victoria Falls town clerk and Masvingo town clerk in the top 10 earning executives of municipalities.
According to the figures, Victoria Falls town clerk Phillip Ndlovu was the fifth highest paid council executive in the country with a monthly pay package of $16 199 comprising $3 534 as basic salary and $12 665 in allowances.
Masvingo town clerk Adolf Gusha’s package stood at $11 378 a month.
However, the two councils dismissed the salaries purportedly earned by their respective town clerks saying the figures were an exaggeration.
Victoria Falls mayor Sifiso Mpofu said the town clerk was remunerated slightly above $8 000 a month, inclusive of benefits.
“That’s not true. He’s not earning that much. Our town clerk is earning slightly above $8 000 basic salary and perks,” he said.
“I don’t know where the minister got his figures. That salary is fair and with an improved financial situation, we could even increase it.” Masvingo mayor Alderman Hubert Fidze also disputed the figure given by Chinamasa saying it was not the one his council sent to him although he declined to divulge Gusha’s remuneration.
“His salary does not reach that much. He’s earning a reasonable salary which goes with the nature of the job he does,” he said.
“No one wants someone to earn obscene salaries, but as for our town clerk, he doesn’t earn that much.”
Gweru town clerk Daniel Matawu earns $6 400 a month and mayor Hamutendi Kombayi said he was being underpaid considering the work he had to do.
“Considering the work he does that figure is too little. We would have wanted to increase his salary to about $8 000,” he said.
“If we consider salaries being earned by town clerks in other cities, his salary demoralises him.
“That man is efficient. We are up to date with our salaries and he does his work diligently. He should be handsomely rewarded.”
Beitbridge Rural District Council chairperson Gladys Tlou expressed shock at the revelations that chief executive officer Albert Mbedzi was earning a monthly salary of $15 210.
“It is too much money. We are always demanding service delivery, but how will they manage that with such salaries,” she said.
“We did not even know that he earns such money because we are not involved in the negotiation of salaries. It must be reduced because it is too much.”
Gwanda mayor Knowledge Ndlovu was rather cautious in his response to revelations that his town clerk Gilbert Mlilo was taking home $20 588.
“At the end, it boils down to the issue of service delivery. Is the performance of the local authority at par with the salaries earned?” he asked.
“I would not say it was justified, but I think to an extent they justified the salaries in negotiations.
“These things I think were done before elections and we found them as they were after the polls.
“What we expect is that service delivery will not be affected after the reduction in salaries.”
Kwekwe town clerk Ngwena Musara is said to be earning $7 863, but mayor Matenda Madzoke refused to talk to Southern Eye about the issue.
“I don’t know you. I have never met you. So how would I know I am speaking to someone from Southern Eye,” he said.
No comment could be obtained from Bulawayo mayor Martin Moyo on the salary of town clerk Middleton Nyoni pegged at $11 379 as his mobile phone continuously rang without being answered while his deputy Gift Banda was also not reachable.
However, Bulawayo United Residents’ Association chairperson Winos Dube said the salary was fair, especially in comparison with those from other cities.
“From the look of things, if I was to compare with other cities, we have a better administration,” he said.
“It could be in tandem with his qualifications, but compared with the hefty salaries from other local authorities, we have a responsible council.”
Dube also expressed fears that the proposed salary caps by the government might fail to attract “the right people with the requisite expertise to get the job done”.
Obscene salaries were uncovered after Cabinet demanded salary schedules of government departments, local authorities and parastatals following revelations that some executives were overpaying themselves.