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Position on Mayor and Town Clerk differences on employees
May 16, 2011
public disharmony or misunderstanding between the Mayor of Harare
and Town Clerk Dr Tendai Mahachi over what to do with the bloated
workforce of the City Council has once again vindicated the position
of the Harare Residents' Trust (HRT) that the real problem
affecting the running of local authorities lies in the reform or
repeal of the Urban
Councils' Act (Chapter 29:15) to enable elected officials
and policymakers with authority to progressively intervene.
In terms of
Section 136 (1) of the Urban Councils' Act, the Town Clerk
is responsible for -(a) the proper administration of the council;
and (b) managing the operations and property of the council; and
(c) supervising and controlling the activities of the employees
of the council in the course of their employment. On further reading
of his mandate, one is left wondering what else he cannot do on
behalf of council, even if councillors exist to come up with the
necessary policies to run local authorities, which he must implement.
The Town Clerk is empowered to do almost everything in his 'power'
to run Harare, irrespective of whether or not there is an elected
in the last few days have gone to show how the bureaucrats in local
authorities have abused the Urban Councils' Act by denying
citizens of their rights to be heard in the administration of local
authorities. Instead of the voice of the citizens in the communities
finding expression through responsive policies, by-laws and regulations
governing recruitment of council staff, provision of services to
residents and enhancing transparency and governance, the powers
of councillors and the Mayor are merely figurative, lacking the
necessary authority to enforce their decisions.
Given this skewed
scenario which is backed by a bad law, the architects of the Urban
Councils' Act in Central Government have created a weak system
of local governance in Zimbabwe that lacks accountability. This
has exposed local authorities to the greedy individuals in high
offices. The demand of the citizenry in the past decade has been
that local authorities should be decentralised, allowing the districts
to make firm decisions on financial management, resource allocation
and providing services to residents. In the absence of this, untrained
people and non-deserving people, whose only qualification is a party
card or association/link to someone holding an influential position,
have become key decision-makers in the council's hierarchy,
impacting negatively in the provision of services to communities.
Instead of being
the chief implementing officer of the council, Town Clerk Mahachi
has chosen instead to play the role of policymaker, relegating elected
and appointed councillors to be merely rubberstamping his wishes.
has further weakened the capacity of the City of Harare to deal
effectively with errant workers, incompetence among senior management
and poor governance at Town House. The ability of the local authority
to deliver services to the satisfaction of citizens has become compromised.
The Town Clerk insists there is no need to retrench workers, instead
3 500 more would need to be recruited, expanding the workforce from
the current 9 850 people. On the other hand the Mayor is arguing
that the 'dead' wood at Town House should be 'chopped
off'. He believes that a leaner, multi-skilled and highly
motivated staff would enhance service provision. The HRT totally
agree. Focus must now be on how to achieve the rationalisation and
make Harare competitive.
The HRT has
since last year been advocating for the rationalisation of the city's
workforce, starting at the top. There are now 13 departments in
council. These are; Human Resources, Waste Management, Urban Planning
Services, Health Services- Administration, Health Services- Medical,
City Treasury, Housing and Community Services, Public Safety, Chamber
Secretary, Harare Water, Engineering Services, Town Clerk and Public
the departments of waste management, engineering, Harare Water,,
housing and community services was combined forming the Department
of Works, Housing and Community Services, previously led by Dr Christopher
Magwenzi Zvobgo. Now four other departments have been created, meaning
more people now in the employ of the council, but still doing the
same things, some of them even to this day still trying to create
space for themselves.
experts interviewed by the HRT said while it would be the best way
to go for the City of Harare to reduce its workforce, directly retrenching
people would cost the council millions in exit packages. The only
viable option in pursuit of the same goal of reducing the council's
workforce would be to replace dead, dismissed and retired employees.
The pensionable age is 65 years, meaning that employees left with
for example, 20 years to reach that age limit would have to be paid
off to compensate for the retrenchment.
HRT views the sentiments expressed by the Mayor in the media on
the justification for retrenchment and rationalisation of the city's
workforce, as sound and warranting serious consideration.
workforce, especially in the engineering, housing and community
services, urban planning services and waste management lack the
necessary skills to effectively deal with the multiple challenges
facing a local authority like Harare. Sewer and water bursts have
gone unchecked for a long time due to incapacity of the existing
workers to understand the structure of Harare as laid out by the
original city planners.
misunderstanding between the Mayor and the Town Clerk, if statements
attributed to them in the media are true, then there is a very big
problem here to be addressed. If top officials continue to disagree
on the way forward,
To deal effectively
with the raised issues in this paper, the HRT makes the following
the structure of the City of Harare to the period before the turn
around led by strategist Chester Mhende which created several
departments. These are an additional expense on the residents
yet the means of raising revenue have not changed.
of top management are made public as they gobble over 70 percent
of the incomes in Harare.
- Repeal or
amend the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) - it is archaic,
repressive and marginalises citizens. This requires a concerted
effort by all concerned stakeholders- residents bodies, local
authorities and other civil society partners. A campaign of intense
proportions has to be undertaken now before our councils collapse
at the hands of greedy officials.
- The Councillors
should defend the city from manipulative bureaucrats at Town House.
The councillors have to put an end to Town Clerk Mahachi's
abuse of the Urban Councils' Act by playing their roles
of policymaking, than allow them to be bribed by being included
in foreign and local trips where they earn huge allowances.
The City of Harare should devise new ways of raising revenue in
order to pay the huge workforce, on time every month than continue
to expect residents of Harare to fund their huge salaries and
administration bill, yet service delivery remains depressed.
Visit the Harare
Residents' Trust fact
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