THE mayors of major cities and towns in Zimbabwe are earning peanuts with allowances ranging from a paltry US$200 to US$400, at a time their senior employees such as town clerks rake 52 times more than them despite last year’s national outrage over “obscene” salaries.
This shocking revelation has raised concerns among local authority circles that the low allowances are a recipe for corruption as mayors handle huge budgets and many projects and transactions involving millions of dollars.
Contrary to public perception that mayors are some of the most well-paid employees in the country, they are in fact only getting allowances that are less than the lowest paid Harare City Council employees who are in grade 15-16.
Documents seen by the Zimbabwe Independent reveal Harare mayor Ben Manyenyeni gets a monthly allowance of US$400 and US$50 for airtime, but since January his contract line has been cut off. His deputy earns US$340 as an allowance.
Bulawayo mayor Martin Moyo gets a monthly allowance of US$350 while his deputy receives US$300. Mutare mayor Tatenda Nhamarare earns US$325 while Masvingo mayor — a former regional manager of a petroleum company, Hubert Fidze — takes home US$260 inclusive of airtime. Kwekwe mayor Matenda Madzoke is slightly above US$200.
The mayors work almost seven days a week as they try to accommodate numerous matters concerning residents.
Their remuneration is in sharp contrast to, for instance, the salary of Harare town clerk Tendai Mahachi. According to documents for last month in possession of the Harare Residents Trust (HRT), Mahachi earns US$21 000 in monthly salary and allowances excluding vehicle and cellphone allowances.
Harare is struggling to provide a decent service to residents amid acute water shortages and uncollected garbage, among a host of challenges.
Bulawayo town clerk Middleton Nyoni earns US$9 000 while Mutare town clerk Obert Muzawazi’s salary is reportedly around US$7 000. Kwekwe town clerk Emmanuel Musara earns close to US$8 000.
According to HRT, Harare City Council has 16 grades of employees with grade one being the town clerk, who is on top of the salary scale.
He is entitled to school fees allowances for a maximum of three children per year, each child receiving the equivalent of one month’s salary and allowances.
“Following this approach, the town clerk on paper would be entitled to school fees allowance of US$63 000 if he has three children in school,” said HRT.
According to the salary sheet, grade two employees, which are the six directors in the Harare City Council earn US$19 073,16 each. They also get school fees assistance for a maximum of three children per year, each child receiving the equivalent of one month’s salary and allowances. Grade three has two employees with each earning US$13 622,50. They are entitled to school fees assistance for a maximum of three children per year under the same conditions as above.
Grade 14 has 735 workers who earn US$560,97. The last grades 15 and 16 have 1 587 workers each getting US$472,36 per month.
HRT pleaded with the Harare mayor to stop the extravagance in the council.
Contacted for comment, Manyenyeni said he could not comment on people’s salaries.
“Historically, salaries of council employees were in the public domain due to full disclosures of council vacancies advertised for filling,” he said. “I have no problem in returning to that state of openness. But there are arguments that these employer-employee relationships should be confidential in public bodies. This position is difficult to defend especially in our situation where the salary cost is a persistent discussion point.”
Masvingo mayor Fidze said the allowances were not sustainable and would at times force them to dig into their own pockets as they try and attend to residents and council business involving multi-million-dollar projects.
“We are taken as ceremonial mayors, but the work that we do is executive,” bemoaned Fidze.