Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
The High Court has quashed Government’s directive of slashing salaries of chief executive officers of rural district councils.
Government, on October 8, 2014, reduced salaries of the council bosses, capping them at $1 900 following an outcry that they were awarding themselves hefty packages at the expense of service delivery.
At least 60 chief executive officers from most of the country’s rural district councils (RDCs) last month contested the decision at the High Court.
High Court judge Justice Happias Zhou nullified the Government directive and ordered the recovery of all the outstanding salaries.
“The directive issued by the first and second respondents on October 8 2014, be and is hereby declared null and void and is hereby set aside.
“The applicants shall be entitled to recover their salaries as negotiated between them and their respective council employers . . .”
Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and the permanent secretary were listed as respondents in the application.
Mr Charles Warara of Warara & Associates Legal Practitioners represented the council bosses in the court challenge.
The local authority bosses cited Mr George Magosvongwe, the permanent secretary in the ministry, and current minister July Moyo as the first and second respondent respectively.
Rural District Council Chief Executives’ Forum (RDCCEF) chairperson Edward Pise in his founding affidavit said he was urging the court to nullify the directive.
Mr Pise said the RDCCEF was also seeking an order compelling all the RDCs to pay their respective CEOs salaries as negotiated between the local authorities and their employees.
He said the CEOs had tried to engage the permanent secretary and minister on the matter without success.
“When this directive was issued, it was not based on the circumstances of the parties, which were not even considered, but a unilateral interference with an existing contractual relationship between the respective councils and their employers,” reads part of the affidavit.
“In the premises, I pray for an order setting aside the directive in terms thereof.”
Mr Pise said no consultations were done before the directive was issued.
“Following the issuance of this directive, the applicants tried several times to discuss the issue with the then permanent secretary for the second respondent, but that did not yield any results,” he said.
“After failing to get the respondent to cooperate, applicants filed an application in this honourable court, being HC6349/ 16.
“The respondent offered in meetings held by our representatives to attend to the issue and correct the illegality, but the respondent has failed to do anything, which is why we have reinstituted this application.”
Mr Pise said the RDCCEF maintained its position that the directive was illegal and prejudicial to its members.