THE salary gaps in local authorities exposed by the publication of perks of chief executive officers and town clerks of various municipalities across the country last week are downright immoral.
Figures released by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa last Tuesday showed that among a number of top earners the Plumtree chief executive officer Davis Dumezweni Luthe is raking $17 000 a month.
According to figures released by the Zimbabwe Urban Councils Workers’ Union, lowest paid workers in most local authorities earn far less than $500.
For example the lowest paid council worker in Victoria Falls earns $270, Gwanda ($360), Gweru ($310) and Bulawayo ($180).
It is disturbing that the lowest paid workers in councils are getting wages far below the poverty datum line while executives live large.
The obscene salaries were publicised after Cabinet demanded salary schedules of government departments, local authorities and parastatals following revelations that some executives were overpaying themselves while ordinary workers went for months without pay.
Local authorities have come under pressure in the past for underpaying their workers, but the excuse has been that ratepayers are not paying their bills on time.
The excuse would no longer be entertained by the long suffering workers following the exposure of the obscene salaries.
It is also instructive that some of the councils that have been overpaying executives such as Chitungwiza have not been paying their workers on time, with some several months behind schedule.
On the other hand, councils such as Bulawayo, which was found to be among rare ones paying reasonable salaries to its town clerks, have been honouring their obligations to workers timeously.
Councils would also have a very tough time justifying these salaries to ratepayers who already feel that they are being overcharged for services.
The rot at councils is also an indictment on Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo who has been presiding over the malady for a very long time.
Chombo should get a valuable lesson from this. His job is not only about advancing a Zanu PF agenda in local authorities, but ensuring that they are well run.