SALARYGATE has claimed its first scalp in Matabeleland after councillors in the Zanu PF-controlled Gwanda Town Council turned down a request by incumbent town clerk Gilbert Mlilo to extend his stay in office beyond his retirement due at the end of May this year.
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) chief executive Happison Muchechetere and his general manager finance Elliot Kasu were the first to fall victim to the salary scandal when they were suspended for drawing large salaries while workers went for over eight months without pay. Muchechetere earned in excess of $40 000 per month.
The next victim was Cuthbert Dube (pictured), who was retired by the Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) after the media exposed his obscene basic monthly salary of $230 000 at a time civil servants, who contribute to PSMAS earn less than $500 a month.
Ironically, Dube also chaired the ZBC board that was dissolved for approving Muchechetere’s hefty package. The PSMAS board has also been dissolved over the salarygate.
Mlilo had initially been due to retire in May 2013, but his contract was extended by 12 months to May this year.
Sources said councillors had rejected Mlilo’s request to extend his contract by a further six months up to the end of December. Seven out of the nine councillors present rejected Mlilo’s contract extension plea. Council is now in search of a new town clerk.
The rejection of Mlilo’s contract extension comes on the heels of revelations by Southern Eye that the Gwanda town clerk was earning almost double the pay of his Bulawayo counterpart despite him managing a smaller town.
Mlilo’s monthly package stands at $16 923, 87 compared to Bulawayo town clerk Middleton Nyoni’s $9 439,19. Mlilo’s basic pay is $6 766,37, but his take home is bumped up by numerous allowances, which include responsibility ($2 706,55), professional ($2 368,23), retention ($2 368,23), telephone ($1 014,96), cellphone allowance ($1 014,96) and housing and car benefits of $278,58.
The council has flighted advertisements in the Press inviting applications for a town clerk.
“Applications are invited from suitably qualified and experienced persons for the position of town clerk, which will soon fall vacant,” reads the advert.
“The position requires an individual with a vision and pin-sharp administrative acumen to ensure the municipality keeps abreast of the changes and developments of the new era whilst ensuring the reputation of the municipality in terms of efficiency, transparency and accountability,” the advert reads.
Gwanda mayor Knowledge Ndlovu confirmed Mlilo’s imminent departure saying he was due for retirement.
“The town clerk will retire end of May and we have already started the search for a replacement,” said Ndlovu.
The mayor said Mlilo’s departure had nothing to do with the salary revelations made by Southern Eye as the issue was decided before his salary was made public. Although Ndlovu could not be drawn into divulging reasons for the rejection of Mlilo’s contract extension request, insiders said councillors were not happy with the way the town clerk had been executing his duties.
“The new councillors feel there is need for new blood to turn around the town. They say he is old and tired and they are not happy with the way he has handled the water problem,” said a source.
Gwanda town has over the years experienced erratic water supplies and lately, raw sewage has been flowing in the streets while refuse continues to pile up in residential areas uncollected. Road maintenance has been neglected and every street in the town is littered with potholes. The council has also been failing to pay its workers on time and their December salaries were only paid this month.
Following the salary exposé, council last week repaired some potholes in the town but the fillings were washed away by the rains.