THE decision by Local Government, Public Works and National Housing minister Ignatius Chombo to reverse the suspension of Harare town clerk Tendai Mahachi will dampen the renewed optimism that the Zanu PF government is now serious about fighting corruption.
Mahachi was suspended by mayor Bernard Manyenyeni last week after revelations that his 18-member management team was earning $500 000 a month.
The capital city’s chief executive had reportedly refused to divulge the remuneration packages to councillors until the salaries were leaked to the media last week.
Chombo admitted the rot and revealed that Mahachi’s salary had been cut from a reported $37 000 a month to $14 847.
He will also receive a $2 500 allowance while other various perks will be done away with.
In addition to that, the city council is set to reduce the number of directors by 50% while 2 000 out of the 9 152-strong municipal workforce will be retrenched.
Chombo said Mahachi had apologised to the mayor even though the mayor is still protesting the return of the town clerk.
The Mahachi case is important because it demonstrates the seriousness, or lack of it, in the government’s push to cleanse its departments of officials that have been using their positions to enrich themselves at the expense of service delivery.
There is no doubt that this cancer is not confined to Harare, but many other municipalities are reeling from corrupt and in-sensitive management.
Harare had provided the best opportunity for the government to demonstrate that it is no longer business as usual.
Chombo has in the past been accused of interfering with operations of MDC-T councils and shielding executives who use their Zanu PF connections to do all sorts of things. Such perceptions would take root once again following his handling of the Harare case.
The case has also set a precedence and this could be used by other officials in towns and cities to escape scrutiny.
Chombo should let the various local authorities, including Harare, to clean up their acts without interference. The government should not show any mercy towards the looters.