SW Radio Africa (London)

Zimbabwe: Mutare Mayor Tells Workers They're 'Undesirables'

Several workers from the Mutare City Council have had their contracts controversially terminated after the acting Mayor said they were 'undesirables.'

Lucia Mangoma, one of the workers who was laid off on Tuesday, told SW Radio Africa that the Mayor simply told them they were no longer of use to the council. The acting Mayor also accused the workers of insubordination.

'When we tried to query his decision he told us he was exercising his powers as boss and that there was nothing we could do about it. Also he's being insincere when he accuse us of insubordination because we've rarely seen him since he took over.

'The Mayor knows we were employed during the reign of the suspended Mayor Brian James and so he believes we are his moles, working against him,' Mangoma said. In all 35 employees were served with termination letters on Tuesday.

Acting Mayor George Jeryson was elected a councillor on an MDC-T ticket, but is now suspected of working closely with ZANU PF Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo.

He's one of five councilors who clandestinely met Chombo at his Mutare hotel in February this year. That meeting culminated in Chombo suspending James as the Mayor and replacing him with Jeryson.

Councillor Silas Rumhungwe, the Vice-Chairman of the general purpose committee, told us the workers were being treated unfairly and has raised the issue with the Town Clerk.

'Unfortunately when the Mayor heard that I had approached the Town Clerk he tried to intimidate me but I told him I was trying to protect the council as the decision could easily backfire against them,' Rumhungwe said.

MDC-T provincial spokesman Pishai Muchauraya told us that the workers, most of them belonging to their party, were unfairly dismissed. He claimed that Esau Mupfumi, a special interest councillor appointed by Chombo, was seen Tuesday recruiting ZANU PF militia to replace these workers.

'Jeryson was elected on an MDC-T ticket, so I don't really know what has got to his head. He is dismissing these workers for selfish reasons and going against party principals of championing workers' rights.

'This is cause for concern for us and as a party we do not tolerate such behavior from officials elected to those positions on an MDC-T ticket,' Muchauraya said. The Makoni South MP said if the council did not reinstate the workers 'unconditionally' they would be taken to court.

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