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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Rates again!

The Combined Harare Residents Association has received disturbing reports from some sources at Town House (names withheld) that the Council is channeling most of the money received from ratepayers towards paying the salaries of its employees.
These reports come after the City of Harare announced its 2009 proposed city budget on the 4th of March which was unfortunately approved by Councilors before residents could be consulted. Residents are not happy with the fact that the City of Harare is focusing on paying salaries while municipal service delivery continues to deteriorate.
The residents are cognizant of the fact that the City employees had been receiving paltry salaries that could not cater for their financial needs but it should also be noted that residents were not receiving basic municipal services from the City of Harare neither. Although there is a need for the Council to boost the morale of its employees through competitive remuneration, residents’ issues should also be addressed with the same urgency because they are the ones who pay the rates. CHRA officials who interviewed some senior members of the municipal police were shocked to discover that they had just been paid US$500 (ZAR5000) in salaries for the month of February. This is amidst revelations that the lowest paid worker at the City of Harare is getting a whopping US$290 (ZAR2900) per month.
The residents feel that the City of Harare should reconsider its priority areas and make efforts to improve municipal service delivery especially considering the fact that the Council has drawn up a whopping US$185 million of which US$100 million will be generated from ratepayers. Surely if residents are to part with their hard earned money they also deserve quality services from the city Council. The state of the roads in the city is deplorable, most of the traffic control lights are not working, street lighting in most suburbs is next to non-existent, community recreational facilities are in a sorry state and piles of uncollected refuse are littered at most shopping centres around the city yet the Council does not seem to make any efforts to correct these maladies. As much as the Council needs to cater for its staff welfare, there is also an urgent need to restore quality municipal service delivery. If the City of Harare is paying such hefty salaries, then they do not have any excuse for neglecting their core business of restoring Harare to its sunshine status.
CHRA urges Councilors, who are the representatives of the ratepayers (who also voted them into power), to critically question this issue of salaries as it is a pointer to serious matters of personal aggrandizement of funds at Town House. The City of Harare has sixteen employment grades. How much then, is the person who is at the highest grade being paid when the lowest grade is getting ZAR2900? Who gets the largest piece of the cake at the end of the day? The issue of who draws the salary regimes at Town House should also be looked into. Are these people really concerned about the welfare of council employees or they are just laying a foundation for their own personal gain? ... food for thought.
CHRA will continue to advocate and lobby for a democratic local government system and struggle for the provision of quality and affordable municipal services on a non partisan basis.

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