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Harare city in salaries crunch

Augustine Mukaro

PANIC has gripped Harare city council employees as the local authority has failed to pay them on time for the third month in a row because of acute financial difficulties.

Senior officials said the local authority has not been remitting taxes resulting in the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority issuing garnish orders to council bankers.

“Last month council failed to transfer employees’ salaries into their bank accounts,” one of the officials said. “The employees ended up being paid through cheques that were encashed from direct revenue collected at Rowan Martin Building and district collection points.”

Sources said town clerk Nomutsa Chideya circulated a memorandum to all workers saying salaries would be delayed by about a week because the city council was facing cash-flow problems.

“The town clerk and chamber secretary Josephine Ncube have sent out internal memos claiming the council is experiencing cash-flow difficulties and will therefore be unable to pay salaries on time,” the official said.Harare workers were supposed to get their salaries on October 22 but payday was moved to October 29.

“It’s not yet clear whether council will manage to pay the workers on the date because there is no money,” city treasury officials said. Neither Chideya nor council spokesman Leslie Gwindi could be reached for comment.

Harare has deteriorated rapidly over the past year since Zanu PF wrestled control of the capital city from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)-dominated council.

Service delivery has collapsed, the streets are potholed, water and sewage systems have become dysfunctional while key capital projects have been abandoned. The government suspended executive mayor Engineer Elias Mudzuri in 2002 and eventually fired him this year.

Acting mayor Sekesai Makwavarara has since crossed the floor from the MDC to rejoin Zanu PF. MDC councillors resigned two months ago in protest against what they said was “undue interference” by the government in the management of the city.Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo appointed a commission to take charge of the city, but conditions continue to plummet.

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