14 Jul 2016 14:40pm
By Mulisa Simiyasa
OTJIWARONGO, 14 JUL (NAMPA) - Executives and managers at the Otjiwarongo Municipality have been paying themselves fat salaries, in contravention of a ministerial directive for all local authorities in the country to conform to a set (lower) salary structure.
Urban and Rural Development Minister, Sophia Shaningwa has refused to approve the towns budget for the 2016/17 financial year on the grounds of this non-conformity to the new salary structure regime, which came into effect in July 2014 already.
The minister even wrote a strong-worded letter to Otjiwarongo Mayor Bennes Haimbondi on 22 June 2016, in which she admonished the municipality for failing to implement the new standardised salary structures for all local authorities.
Shaningwa said the annual salaries budgeted by council for the towns four strategic executives and six managers are much higher than what they are supposed to be.
She directed the local authority councillors to rectify the situation, and also to take action against the accounting officer at the municipality for unauthorised expenditures, including the paying of high salaries, in the financial years 2013/2014, 2014/2015/ and 2015/2016.
This letter then serves to inform you that the approval of the budget for the Otjiwarongo Municipalitys financial year 2016/2017 has been put on hold until these issues above are resolved and proof thereof forwarded to the ministry, stated Shaningwa in the letter.
She said the ministry will take action(s) against the Otjiwarongo Local Authority councillors, if the municipality fails to do as directed. The letter does not specify the type of actions that would be taken.
Contacted for comment on the matter, Haimbondi said he was aware of the letter from the minister, but referred the news agency to the municipality's Strategic Executive for Human Resources and Corporate Services, Marlay Mbakera.
On her part, Mbakera confirmed to Nampa on Wednesday that the municipalitys 2016/17 budget was turned down by the minister.
She said they have been explaining to the ministry since 2014 that they are unable to implement the directive, as this would mean the salaries of 147 employees, including all senior managers, will have to be reduced.
Mbakera added that her office was now busy writing another letter to the minister to explain their position.