GOVERNMENT has unveiled a new salary structure that will see town clerks and secretaries who used to earn "obscene salaries" hovering around $30,000 per month, now getting between $1 900 and $9 000 per month.

According to a circular dated October 8 this year, sent to all local authorities by Local Government permanent secretary George Mlilo, the salary cut is with immediate effect and is expected to cascade down to the lowest grades.

Mlilo said the directive was meant to ensure local authorities implemented a service delivery-salary ratio of 60:40.

Part of the circular read: "As you recall, after the realisation that local authorities are paying unsustainable salaries and allowances at the expense of basic service delivery, the government sought to rationalise the remuneration for all local authorities' employees."

Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni confirmed that the city had received a similar directive.

"We have such a directive and it will cascade downwards and we will see whether it will have to go to the least paid. There is need to protect the more vulnerable workers," he said.

Reports are that the new salary for Harare town clerk Tendai Mahachi was now pegged at $9 000 per month down from the $37 000 he reportedly earned before the latest government intervention.

Mlilo said government had come up with a remuneration framework for heads of local authorities which should then be cascaded down using a differential that would allow a minimum total pay package that was in line with the poverty datum line for the least paid employee.

"With immediate effect, all town clerks and town secretaries in your province shall observe the set sealings (ceilings) of total pay packages as given below: Gweru City Council $4 500, Kwekwe Municipality $3 200, Zvishavane Town Council $2 400, Gokwe Town Council $2 400, Gokwe North Rural District Council $1 900, Gokwe South $1 900, Runde Rural District Council $1 900, Chirumhanzu Rural District Council $1 900, Vungu Rural $1 900, Mberengwa $1 900," he said.

"The salary benefits ratio must be 60:40. The value of all allowances and other benefits that accrue to all grades of a local authority must not exceed forty percent of total package. Non-compliance is not an option."

The letter was copied to Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, his deputy Biggie Joel Matiza, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda and Comptroller and Auditor-General Mildred Chiri.

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