17 June 2014

Zimbabwe: Govt Squeezes Top Cat CEO's Even More

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has moved to operationalise a policy decision meant to placate a restive population angered by the salary scam which exploded at the end of last year, secretary to the President and cabinet Misheck Sibanda said Monday.

Sibanda, who was guest of honour at a one-day conference hosted by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) on investigations and international affairs, said government will now tax all bosses' earnings.

"With specific reference to the public sector, I wish to advise that Cabinet has already approved the Corporate Governance and Remuneration Policy Framework for designated executive posts in state enterprises, parastatals and similar institutions," said Sibanda.

He said the policy will be administered by a Delivery Agency in President Robert Mugabe's office.

"All total pay packages for the designated posts is taxable, and should comprise basic salary constituting 60% and benefits 40%.

"Chief executive officers and heads of local authorities will now be appointed for a four-year-term, renewable once, on the basis of satisfactory performance," the top civil servant said.

Mugabe, angered by media revelations of massive salaries earned by heads of state entities, imposed a cap of $6,000 for the highest earning parastatal and local authority boss.

According to a preliminary audit done by cabinet early this year, most local authority and state entity bosses avoided taxes by awarding themselves more in the form of non-taxable benefits than direct salaries.

Sibanda said the framework was part of government plan to "inculcate values of good corporate governance to ensure that all public institutions comply with the country's tax laws".

"Investigations undertaken by Zimra on a number of state enterprises, parastatals and some local authorities have unearthed a number of irregularities in the areas of income tax, PAYE, withholding tax, among other tax heads," Sibanda said.

"Such revelations brought to the fore need an interactive forum where all chief executives can be enlightened on their tax obligations".

Among top earning state entity bosses were former Premier Service Medical Aid Society chief executive officer Cuthbert Dube who was taking whom a whopping $535,000 in salary and perks before he, together with his board headed by Meissie Namasasu, were kicked out.

Namasasu's board included Mugabe's media spin-doctor George Charamba who along with his acolytes in the board took home $100 000 every quarter.

As tempers threatened to boil over, vice president Joice Mujuru jumped into the fray in typical foot-in-the-mouth fashion and accused those fronting the corruption fight of being infiltrators bent on destroying Zanu PF from within, in a thinly veiled attack on Information Minister Jonathan Moyo.

Moyo did not take the issue lying down, and hit back immediately.

"The assertion that this is a political witch-hunt will fail and die. The fact that we did not do anything yesterday does not mean we cannot do anything today or tomorrow," he said.

"There have been spooky attempts at misinformation and to stop the fight under the guise that those who have been fingered in the corruption dragnet are somehow victims of a sinister political plot or machination."


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