April 20, 2004

Chiefs get large allowances

Traditional chiefs will from now on be paid monthly allowances of $1 million each, backdated to January this year. Deputy Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Cde Fortune Charumbira who himself is a chief in Masvingo announced the hike during an assembly of 23 chiefs from Matabeleland region in Gwanda. He said the non-taxable allowances for the chiefs would rise from $500.000 to $I million and this would be backdated to January this year. "President Mugabe has approved the increment and were it not for his Excellency and Minister Ignatius Chombo’s respect and recognition of the role chiefs play as traditional leaders in our community this recommendation would have been thrown out," said Chief Charumbira. He said some civil servants were not keen to see chiefs given "reasonable" allowances as they felt it was degrading to earn less than a chief. "What they do not realise is that you can not compare a chief to a civil servant. To put the chief in some form of a rank is a futile exercise," Chief Charumbira said.

He also noted that they had not received much support from the Ministry of Finance when the issue of increasing allowances for chiefs was raised. "In civil service, people are considered on the basis of qualifications, performance and other such criteria for salary increments but as chiefs we have no such things. The qualification one requires to be a chief is birth and blood that makes a chief a unique leader," he said. He also announced increments for allowances for headmen, village heads and chief’s aides or messengers. Chief Charumbira also took the opportunity to inform his colleagues that Government was working on a scheme to procure vehicles for chiefs. Under the proposed scheme Government will meet 50 percent of the cost of the purchase of the vehicles, with the chiefs paying the remainder in monthly instalments. Currently the cost of the vehicles is $58 million each but Ministry officials were negotiating for the removal of duty on the cars as they will be imported. Members of Parliament benefited from a similar duty free scheme. "If our negotiations are successful the price will come down significantly. The procurement of the cars for the 268 Chiefs in the country will be done in phases with vehicles coming in batches of about 30 per month," he said. (The Herald, Harare)

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