THE move by the government to cap salaries and allowances for bosses of parastatals and municipalities is a breadth of fresh air.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa on Tuesday announced that as an interim measure, Cabinet had approved that salaries for managers in State-owned companies and municipalities be pegged at a maximum of $6 000.
He said this would remain in place until an inter-ministerial team tasked with investigating the scandal now known as salarygate concluded its work.
The investigations were triggered by revelations that some struggling State-linked companies were paying their bosses as much as $230 000 per month. Struggling municipalities such as Harare, Gwanda, Plumtree, Beitbridge and Victoria Fallls were also found to be paying their managers over-the-top salaries.
The perks were certainly not consistent with an economy that is supposed to be recovering from a slump of more than a decade. Zimbabwe’s population is mired in poverty caused by a long running political crisis and corruption that has been brought to the fore by salarygate.
According to government’s own submissions, the bosses who were getting mega salaries evaded tax by loading all manner of benefits into allowances.
The parastatals that used to contribute 40% of Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product are now a serious drain on the limited resources as they constantly plead for bailouts from the government.
Remuneration for top managers had no relation to the performance of the institutions and in most cases the workers were going for months without salaries. The government should be applauded for putting its foot down on this very emotive issue.
However, it can only be the beginning of a very tough exercise to restore morality and dignity at State-owned institutions.
The government should go a step further and shame those who would have been found to have plundered parastatals and municipalities once the audit has been completed. Those who would be found to have crossed the line should be prosecuted without fear or favour.
Only decisive action would restore confidence in government institutions and this is one way of ensuring that.