Byo coun­cil pay cuts ap­proved

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Mashudu Net­sianda Se­nior Court Re­porter

A HIGH Court judge has dis­missed an ap­pli­ca­tion by 12 Bu­l­awayo City Coun­cil bosses who were chal­leng­ing the slash­ing of their salaries and al­lowances by the Govern­ment, say­ing the re­duc­tion was in the na­tional in­ter­est.

The slash­ing of the salaries and perks fol­lows a Min­is­te­rial di­rec­tive which sought to ra­tio­nalise the re­mu­ner­a­tion of top coun­cil man­agers by 40 per­cent of their to­tal pack­age.

The se­nior coun­cil man­age­ment un­der a group­ing called “The Ex­ec­u­tive Group of the Staff ” and through its lawyers Calder­wood, Bryce Hen­drie and Part­ners, re­cently filed an ur­gent cham­ber ap­pli­ca­tion at the Bu­l­awayo High Court cit­ing Lo­cal Govern­ment, Pub­lic Works and Na­tional Hous­ing Min­is­ter Saviour Ka­sukuwere and the Bu­l­awayo City Coun­cil as the re­spon­dents.

The coun­cil bosses who went to court are Kimp­ton Zenzo Ndi­mande (finance di­rec­tor), Simela Dube (di­rec­tor of en­gi­neer­ing ser­vices), Spekiwa Mugiya (le­gal of­fi­cer), Dic­tor Khu­malo (as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of hous­ing and com­mu­nity ser­vices), Makhosi Tshalebwa (hu­man re­sources man­ager) and Richard Peter­son (chief fire of­fi­cer).

The other bosses in­clude Masocha Mt­shena (as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of health ser­vices), Ten­nyson Mpunzi (chief in­ter­nal au­di­tor), Tha­bani Ncube (city valuer) and Mpaza­miso Nde­bele (in­for­ma­tion and tech­nol­ogy man­ager).

Bu­l­awayo Mayor, Mr Martin Moyo, through a let­ter dated July 13, 2016, in­structed the then act­ing town clerk to im­ple­ment the coun­cil res­o­lu­tion.

The coun­cil bosses, through the Ex­ec­u­tive Group of the Staff chair­per­son, Mr Macken­zie Widzani Moyo, sought an or­der in­ter­dict­ing their em­ployer from im­ple­ment­ing the res­o­lu­tion for the re­duc­tion of al­lowances payable to them pend­ing the de­ter­mi­na­tion and fi­nal­i­sa­tion of a case be­fore the Min­istry of Pub­lic Ser­vice, Labour and So­cial Wel­fare.

But Jus­tice Maxwell Takuva, in a rul­ing de­liv­ered yes­ter­day, said the Min­is­te­rial di­rec­tive was in the na­tional in­ter­est after a re­al­i­sa­tion by the Govern­ment that lo­cal au­thor­i­ties were pay­ing un­sus­tain­able salaries and al­lowances at the ex­pense of ba­sic ser­vice de­liv­ery.

“I take the view that the bal­ance of con­ve­nience does not favour the grant­ing of an in­terim or­der. It ap­pears that the Min­is­te­rial di­rec­tive was made in the na­tional in­ter­est after a re­al­i­sa­tion that lo­cal au­thor­i­ties were pay­ing un­sus­tain­able salaries and al­lowances at the ex­pense of ba­sic ser­vice de­liv­ery,” said Jus­tice Takuva.

The judge said ser­vice de­liv­ery was more im­por­tant than in­di­vid­ual in­ter­ests.

“What is at stake there­fore is ef­fec­tive ser­vice de­liv­ery to Bu­l­awayo res­i­dents in their to­tal­ity as op­posed to the al­lowances of the ex­ec­u­tive group which can be com­pen­sated through non-mon­e­tary ben­e­fits. In my view, na­tional in­ter­est should pre­vail over in­di­vid­ual in­ter­est,” Jus­tice Takuva.

The judge said the Min­is­ter pred­i­cated the ap­proval of the bud­get on the ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion of salaries.

“It is com­mon cause that cur­rently the Bu­l­awayo City Coun­cil bud­get has not been ap­proved, mean­ing that in terms of sec­tion 47 of Pub­lic Finance Man­age­ment Act, all cur­rent ex­pen­di­ture of the city is ir­reg­u­lar in­clud­ing the pay­ment of salaries to ap­pli­cants,” said Jus­tice Takuva.

He said coun­cil bosses have al­ter­na­tive sat­is­fac­tory rem­edy since they had filed a com­plaint with the Min­istry of Pub­lic Ser­vice, Labour and So­cial Wel­fare.

“In the cir­cum­stances, the ap­pli­ca­tion is un­mer­ited and is hereby dis­missed and each party to bear its own costs,” ruled Jus­tice Takuva.

Mr Moyo, who is also the coun­cil’s as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of Hous­ing and Com­mu­nity Ser­vices, in his found­ing af­fi­davit, ar­gued that there was no le­gal ba­sis upon which the Min­is­te­rial di­rec­tive was premised.

“It is our con­tention that while the Min­is­ter’s pow­ers in terms of the Ur­ban Coun­cils Act may be wide in terms of him reg­u­lat­ing the ac­tiv­i­ties of lo­cal au­thor­i­ties they, how­ever, do not al­low him to take away rights the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties would have law­fully be­stowed upon third par­ties,” he ar­gued.

He fur­ther con­tended that the ac­tions of their em­ployer and the Min­is­ter were a vi­o­la­tion of their rights in terms of the Labour Act.

“We believe th­ese are rights that may not be taken away from us on the ba­sis of pow­ers of the Mi n i s t e r given to him by the Ur­ban Coun­cils Ac t . Clearly if on the ba­sis of any other law some­one were to say that they are en­ti­tled to take away fun­da­men­tal rights of em­ploy­ees pro­tected by the Labour Act, there would be a con­flict be­tween the Labour Act and any other such law that the per­son would be seek­ing to rely upon,” said Mr Moyo. — @ mash­nets

Mr Martin Moyo

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