By Kenneth Matimaire
Mutare, February 16, 2016 – The Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Saviour Kasukuwere has banned city and town councils top officials from embarking on any out of town programmes at the expense of ratepayers.
The written directive, circulated last week, indicated that out of town programmes such as workshops, look and learn tours had been banned with immediate effect.
Local authorities are now required to first seek authority from the permanent secretary who now has the prerogative to either pass or block such programmes depending on necessity.
“All local authorities are with immediate effect directed to stop undergoing any outings; out of town workshops or look and learn tours at the council’s expense.
“They are directed to seek the authority of the permanent secretary for approval,” reads extracts from the communiqué.
Mutare mayor, Councillor Tatenda Nhamarare said he has heard about the new directive but has not yet received the official communiqué.
“Yes I have heard about the directive but have not yet received it. Maybe we will receive ours this week,” he said.
However, a source at the Civic Centre, which houses the council offices, said a copy of the communiqué has already been circulated at the local authority.
The directive is part of the stop-gap measures by the parent ministry to ensure that local authorities comply with the new policy where 70 percent of their income is channelled towards service delivery while the balance goes to salaries.
Mutare City Council (MCC) is one of the 26 local authorities that had its budget proposals for 2016 rejected for allegedly prioritising salaries ahead of service delivery.
The parent ministry indicated that the $16 million budget tabled by the local authority failed to comply with the salary-service ratio of 30:70 percent issued last year.
Last year, MCC salary-service ratio stood at 63:37 percent, which saw the high salary bill eroding the council’s capacity to provide essential services.
Its management is currently under fire for gross mismanagement, corruption and fraud, which was exposed by an audit released last month.
This led to the resignation of the town clerk Obert Muzawazi who has been replaced by the city engineer Donaldson Nyatoti on an acting capacity.
Three more managers fingered in the scam that prejudiced the city millions of dollars have also been shown the exit door during a full council meeting held recentrly.