By Lynette Manzini
Harare, November 23, 2016 – LOCAL Government Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere has berated Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni and his council for “jumping the gun” after they suspended two city executives based on his ministry’s audit report which they had not yet seen.
The audit report lifts the lid on a salary scandal by top city managers who were found to have been running secret accounts to deposit their salaries which were above those prescribed by government.
This led to the suspension of town clerk Josephine Ncube and Cainos Chingombe.
Kasukuwere told a press briefing in Harare on Tuesday he will finally submit the audit report on the compliance of council to adhere with government directive to rationalise salaries.
He said he would also meet city fathers to bring normalcy at Town House.
Kasukuwere said council should not have cherry picked the individuals to target for suspension based on a leaked audit report, although he confirmed it to be the authentic.
“What we want to say to the City of Harare is you have jumped the gun; as minister of local government after we have carried out the audit I will come with the audit to council,” he said.
“The suspension of Town Clerk Josphine Ncube and subsequently Cainos Chingombe could have affected almost all the top directors of City of Harare and what this could mean is we can easily grind to a halt the work in our councils.”
He however said he was not endorsing cases of abuse of office and corruption by public officials.
Kasukuwere further added he will visit council 5 December this year to present the audit officially and to map the way forward “in terms of who gets to suspended and who gets to be fired”.
“You just don’t wake up one morning and suspend one person without even reading the report yourself. We are not happy at all; the city can’t be run on rumours,” he said.
“We must be guided in the way we do things, it should be legal we don’t intend to see the city of Harare being taken to court through their local authorities and losing money.”
Kasukuwere also gave council up to 60 days to fill up all acting positions procedurally.
“We can’t have 60 percent of council being run on acting capacity. We would rather have people working on a full time basis to restore order,” he said.
The minister advised council to abolish the secret salary account to foster transparency.
Combined Harare Residents Association director Mfundo Mlilo, who also attended the briefing, welcomed the developments.
“We welcome the statement by the minister to deal with particularly the issue of secret accounts. So there is a time line within which these issues should be dealt with because town house was slowly grinding to a halt.”