DELAY in the conclusion of labour cases against suspended top managers has proved costly to Harare City Council which is now paying about $300 000 monthly to each of its five directors sitting at home, while those occupying the same positions in acting capacities are also getting the same figures plus a host of benefits.
Town Clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango and five directors are currently on suspension over corruption-related charges. Some have been on suspension for close to a year without any hearing.
All top managers (Grades one to three) are on suspension except for health services director Dr Prosper Chonzi (Grade two) who is substantively in office.
Eng Chisango, Mr Stanely Ndemera (finance director), Mr Addmore Nhekairo (housing director), Eng Zvenyika Chawatama (works director), Charles Kandemiri (chamber secretary) are all receiving salaries and benefits from home.
Their cases have dragged for months and the council is failing to prosecute their labour cases.
They are receiving full salaries and benefits while those appointed to their posts in acting capacity are also drawing the benefits and salaries in the region of $300 000 each.
Information gathered reveals that Eng Chisango is receiving a salary in the region of $320 000 while in the comfort of his home.
The other directors are getting varying amounts in the region of $300 000 but slightly lower than the Town Clerk’s salary.
Eng Chisango reportedly has two council vehicles and gets 320 litres of fuel monthly. He also gets allowances for entertainment, airtime, refreshments, public relations and responsibility.
Other directors get almost the same allowances monthly. Interestingly, those in acting capacity are getting the same salaries and perks.
The local authority is also headed for a showdown after recently losing a labour case against its human capital and development director Dr Cainos Chingombe.
Council’s lawyers, who are also charging a fortune, bungled in the case and filed defective papers leading to the dismissal of their case by the Labour Court.
This means council will now have to pay Dr Chingombe a backdated salary and benefits. He had been fired for misconduct.
Dr Chingombe was suspended in 2017, and reinstated in November last year before being subsequently fired in April this year.
He contested the decision in the Labour Court, a case where council lawyers put a poor performance.
Acting Harare Mayor Musarurwa Stewart Mutizwa said the council has since set up an independent tribunal to do hearings for the suspended bosses.
“Hearings are ongoing, we anticipated that the tribunal would finish within one month, but issues are very complex.
“The challenge is that some of these officials have pending criminal cases so at times when they are supposed to be appearing before the tribunal, they will be called by the police,” he said.
Acting human capital director Mr Bosman Matengarufu said the suspended personnel will continue to be on full salaries and benefits until their cases have been finalised.
“In the event of suspension of an executive person, the hearing should be done within 14 days and if it fails to kick start the suspended person will be on paid leave. “For other employees, a hearing should be concluded in 30 days.
“In the current cases, we have others that are still under investigation, meaning a disciplinary hearing cannot be conducted for now.
“If the issue is not yet concluded, we will continue to pay salaries and benefits. You cannot punish an employee on the basis that he or she is simply being accused,” he said.
Mr Matengarufu said the conclusion of some of the cases was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic as the country experienced a series of lockdowns.
However, The Herald has it on good record that the council has been taking a lackadaisical approach on at least 40 cases involving senior and middle managers that have been fully investigated by the Harare Municipal Police.
A clear sign of laxity by council is the case involving Mr Nhekairo, who was among the first directors to be put on suspension in August 2019 and since then the council is yet to finalise his disciplinary hearing.
A source within council said Grade 4s who are currently occupying the vacant top posts have also connived to hike their salaries to match those of the top three grades.
“A Grade 4 employee is now pocketing a gross salary of about $250 000 against Grade 6s getting $60 000 despite both doing almost similar jobs.
“Even in the event that the suspended directors are back in the office, they know that their salaries will be okay,” said the source. Mr Matengarufu dismissed the allegations saying all procedures are done with council approval.
Last year, the senior managers also hogged the limelight for the wrong reasons following reports that they secretly quadrupled their salaries, instead of a proposed 50 percent increment, angering councillors who called for the immediate reversal of the hikes. Herald