Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Harare mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni has clashed with the MDC-T Harare leadership over his intentions to cut the city’s salaries following a salary benchmarking exercise.
Clr Manyenyeni said council was expecting to have the salary benchmarking report availed for “important and necessary review”.
He described the city’s human resource costs as a disaster, saying council was spending $10 million of the revenue it collected on salaries, leaving a meagre $2 million for service delivery.
Harare is collecting between $12 million and $13 million monthly from ratepayers against a budget of $24 million.
MDC-T Harare provincial chairperson and Highfield East legislator Mr Eric Murai, who conceded that there were disagreements over the issue, said the party’s position was clear on salaries.
“We have a clear position on that: workers’ salaries should not be reduced,” he said. “It is not only council which is burdened by a huge wage bill; Government has the same problem, but it is soldiering on. We cannot go and cut salaries for employees who are earning $250.
“We, however, support Government’s position to introduce a salary cap for the bosses. We cannot have executives earning $36 000.”
Last month, Clr Manyenyeni told journalists that his council was burdened with an unsustainable wage bill, with almost every worker being overpaid compared to the prevailing salaries on the market.
He said the wage bill needed to be drastically reduced if the city was to prioritise service delivery.
Clr Manyenyeni said the right-sizing of the city’s wage bill was critical if council was to move forward.
“We are burdened with a heavy wage bill,” he said.
“The management tends to take the limelight because they are politically more sellable, but the reality with council is that almost every job is overpaid compared to the market rates.
“That is why we have got this crisis. It is easy to focus and talk about the executives, but if we really look at it, it is the entire wage bill that needs review. The executives account for maybe 3 percent of the total wage bill. This tells you that even if we stop paying them, we still have a huge bill to contend with because the other 97 percent applies to the rest of our work force.”
Last year, the city embarked on a salary survey and benchmarking against service delivery following stakeholders’ concerns that the city was spending much of its revenue on employment costs at a time when service delivery plummeted.