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Mugabe talks tough

by Richard Chidza
22 Apr 2014 at 08:58hrs | Views
President Robert Mugabe has warned parastatal and local authority bosses who have threatened to disregard a Cabinet directive to slash their obscene salaries, charging at them "not offend against regulations".

Mugabe told thousands gathered for the country's independence celebrations at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on Saturday that he wanted a clean government, but he would not sacrifice people for "the sake of it".

"Do not offend against regulations. We want a clean government and we will deal with corruption. I can assure you that we will not leave corrupt practices," Mugabe said.

The salarygate scandal exploded into the public domain following exposure of the massive earnings of then Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) chief executive officer, Cuthbert Dube.

Dube took home a staggering $535 000 monthly in salary and perks while members of his board, who included Mugabe's chief spin doctor George Charamba, earned huge sums in quarterly allowances.

An angry Mugabe then demanded the salary schedules of all parastatals and local authorities which revealed an astonishing trend in which executives allocated themselves huge non-taxable  benefits despite that all of these institutions were literally on their knees.

Cabinet then issued a policy directive slashing the massive perks and capping the highest earners at $6 000. However, this move has been challenged, with some parastatals and local authorities questioning the legality of the directive.

Unionists at power utility Zesa Holdings have since gone to court labelling a directive from the ministry of Energy and Power Development to slash the salaries an "April Fool's Day joke".

But last week, Mugabe warned against corruption and outright theft.

"Do not steal. Do not allocate yourselves that which you do not deserve or that which is not yours. You have not been appointed into management so that you give yourselves huge salaries," said Mugabe.

The president said despite his authority he had, earned a ridiculous salary during the inclusive government.

"I earned a humiliating salary during the inclusive government. Where in the world have you ever heard a president earning $100 but then we understood that our economy did not have the capacity to pay more. We did not say because tisu vakuru (we are in power) give us more," Mugabe said.

Media, Information and Broadcasting Services minister Jonathan Moyo, two weeks ago urged government to turn the policy into law.

He told the inaugural annual accountants' conference that some parastatal and local authority bosses have reacted with contempt to the order to cap bosses' salaries.

"We have been flying a kite and some people have reacted with contempt to the order for salaries to be pegged at $6 000,  arguing the policy has no legal basis. Now, people should not be surprised when we translate that framework into law because that is what is going to happen," said Moyo.

The government information minister said those arguing that the move would cause a skills flight were mistaken.

"Some have argued that the salary cap that we implemented to deal with salarygate will cause a skills flight and we should either have kept it like that or somehow accommodated it as a strategy for skills retention. What skills would the PSMAS lose if Cuthbert Dube were to leave?" he queried.

Despite the fact that his cash-strapped government has, in the last few months, been struggling to pay its workers, Mugabe in his address insisted that government wanted its employees to get salaries commensurate with the poverty datum line.

"We have said we want government workers paid good wages and we will continue to negotiate until that is achieved," he said.

Source - Zim Mail
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