17 May 2012

Zimbabwe: Bulawayo Mulls Salary Cuts

THE cash-strapped Bulawayo City Council is proposing to slash workers' salaries by 20% to service a loan used to purchase luxury vehicles for senior officials after a local bank threatened to attach some of its buildings.

A report by the council's finance committee shows that city fathers wanted salaries cut to enable it to repay US$4,5 million bank loan used to buy 20 top-of-the range vehicles for managers. Among the vehicles purchased were a Land Rover for town clerk Middleton Nyoni, a Toyota Prado for the housing director Isaiah Magagula and a Toyota Fortuner for finance director Kempton Ndimande.

The bank has threatened to attach the council's main buildings, the Tower Block and Revenue Hall, over the outstanding debt.

A finance committee member told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that council was forced to resort to slashing salaries to help solve its unending cash flow problems as there was no other way of raising the required amount.

"Council is broke because we rely on rates but we all know that residents are struggling to pay their bills. Therefore, it's likely that council will slash salaries," said the senior councillor.

Council has been failing to pay workers on time for the past three years, prompting workers to go on strike last month. Council workers in Grades four to 12 are yet to receive their March salaries.

Council reportedly collects close to US$4 million in revenue each month and the week-long strike has already prejudiced it of about US$1 million.

The Zimbabwe Urban Councils Workers' Union general secretary Moses Mahlangu demanded that council pay workers their outstanding salaries and return the luxury vehicles if it could not pay for them instead of cutting workers' already low wages.

Service delivery in Bulawayo has been crumbling with burst water and sewer pipes now a common feature in residential areas.

Council was also failing to pay a US$21 million Zesa bill, which resulted in the power utility disconnecting electricity at the City Hall, Tower Block and Revenue Hall two months ago, and the three prestigious buildings have been without power ever since.

Bulawayo mayor Thaba Moyo (pictured) declined to comment saying he was busy in meetings.

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