Innocent Ruwende Municipal Reporter—
Chairperson of Harare City Council’s finance committee, councillor Norman Markham, has resigned from his post over the non-disclosure of executive salaries and general unaccountability at Town House. In his resignation letter to mayor Mr Bernard Manyenyeni, Clr Markham said he was uncomfortable heading a finance committee that had no control over finances.
“It is with regret that I tender my resignation as chairman of the finance committee and indeed the committee itself. I cannot believe that anyone with any self-respect would chair the Harare City Council finance committee as it stands and runs today.
“For over six months we have been waiting for contracts for grade one to four employees. This scope, like all the grades is overstaffed for our resources, but the packages are extraordinary. This band alone accounts for nearly 10 percent of our wage bill. We have no control over contracts, benefits drawn,” read part of the letter.
Clr Markham said due to the huge workforce, he had suggested a three-day working week to reduce wages and free up more money for service delivery. He did not get any support on the matter.
The Helensvale, Borrowdale Brooke, Greystone Park, Kambanje and Glen Lorne councillor said the council executive was recruiting without council’s involvement adding that an area of particular irritation was the number of directors which stood at 14 before being trimmed.
“An amazing folly which I cannot accept is a budget of US$1,6 million to sponsor a football club in the current economic crisis. Yet Harare City Council cannot afford any support to its amenities and associated residents.
“I shudder at the water rehabilitation deal that has been signed in the deal. Information technology equipment is covered in this contract which I have not seen to the tune of over US$1 million. Yet in the HCC budget, we also had a similar budget placed for similar equipment,” he said.
The councillor said he did not have details of the deals in question.
Mr Manyenyeni confirmed the resignation, and said, “I respect his conscience. I have failed to persuade him to stay on. I share his frustration.”
Last week Mayor Manyenyeni suspended town clerk, Dr Tendai Mahachi for three months after he failed to provide the salary schedule of all senior council employees.
However, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo almost immediately re-instated the town clerk.
The suspension was effected to pave way for investigations into the city council’s financial management amid reports the city’s 18 directors were gobbling over US$500 000 in salaries monthly at a time service delivery has plummeted to levels where the municipality cannot even replace street light bulbs.