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The Epworth Local Board yesterday suspended its town secretary Mr Wilton Mhanda for gross misconduct after he increased workers’ salaries without approval.
The town chairperson Mr Batanai Masunda confirmed the suspension.
“I wrote a letter suspending Mr Mhanda for misconduct after he increased employees’ salaries for September and October this year without council approval. He had also backdated the increases to August,” he said.
“His suspension is without salary and benefits. A full council meeting will be held on Friday to decide on the disciplinary action to be taken against him,” he said.
Mr Mhanda is reportedly taking home about $50 000, up from $22 000 before the increment. The least paid worker is taking home $7 000.
Mr Masunda also alleged that Mr Mhanda recently pegged rates in US dollars without council approval and the decision was reversed.
The two parties have had a sour relation over the past few months as Mr Mhanda has been accused of making key decisions without consulting or getting approval from councillors. A recent case is when the Epworth Local Board reversed its decision to levy rates in foreign currency. Mr Masunda, who was siding with ratepayers, accused Mr Mhanda of jumping the gun by introducing the option to pay bills using foreign currency without their approval while the management insisted that the move was above board.
While the town secretary is responsible for negotiation of workers’ salaries and contracts, salaries are, however, supposed to be increased with the approval of a full council meeting.
Mr Mhanda could not be reached for a comment yesterday.
Epworth Residents Development Association secretary-general Mr Peter Nyapeto yesterday said the suspension was long overdue.
“If the suspension has to do with corruption, we are happy. Corruption was now ripe at the council this is actually a step in the right direction,” he said.
“The Second Republic has also declared zero tolerance to corruption unlike the past administration were corruption was left unabated.”