Harare councilors are reportedly pushing for more workshops outside the capital in a bid to boost their low salaries through the allocation of fuel, USD cash payments as well as huge amounts of money using the bank rate.
Harare Residents Trust (HRT) said the practice has become so prevalent that the councilors prefer holding meetings in other towns, especially Victoria Falls, Mutare and Kadoma.
“The Council managers receive an average US$100 per day spent outside Harare on council business.
“Informed officials say each Councilor attending a workshop outside Harare receives fuel money calculated using AAA rates from Council then two or three of them would use one vehicle despite claiming the monies registering their individual vehicles.
“At these workshops, which take between 3-7 days, they receive US$10 per day spent at the workshop,” it said.
According to informed council sources, the reason councilors are desperate for as many workshops as possible outside of Harare is because of their low monthly allowances and a very high level of unemployment among the councilors.
HRT said the local authority should not hold workshops in other towns when they have abundant alternative venues to conduct their council business.
“Councillors are not full time in terms of the local government system in Zimbabwe.
“A Councillor maybe employed elsewhere and simply attend council meetings to make policies, oversee council management and represent residents, mostly through council committees and meetings.
“Council officials are usually forced to convene meetings outside Harare in order to increase the money paid out in different forms to officials and councilors,” it added.
In December 2021 Harare councilors held a 5 day workshop for the formulation of the Local Environmental Action Plan (LEAP) in Mutare.
The event drew a lot of criticism from residents and residents’ organizations.
Council defended itself saying that there were too many distractions for councilors if the event was held in Harare.
In 2019 it was calculated that Harare council was spending an average of US$200 per councilor for hotel accommodation and meals a day during workshops.
Some of the council workshops have been held in Victoria Falls, Leopard Rock Hotel, Vumba, Nyanga and Kadoma Hotel.