17 December 2012

Zimbabwe: MDC-T Looks to Government to Bail Out Masvingo Council

The MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai is looking to the government's financial heads, to help bail out the party-run Masvingo Council.

The Council is in the midst of a potential debilitating court battle after failing to pay its workers their salaries, to the tune of US$3.5 million. A court has since ordered this amount be paid out, but the council does not have the cash to meet this demand.

Instead, key council assets have been listed for seizure and auction in order to fulfil the debt to the workers. This includes garbage and fire trucks, fire fighting equipment, council vehicles, office furniture and computers and even the Mayor's Mercedes Benz sedan.

The removal of council property started almost two weeks ago, threatening to paralyse council work like clearing refuse or putting out fires. This forced the council to file an urgent injunction halting the process, and judgement has been reserved in that case.

This means the MDC-T has some breathing room to make another plan to honour the court order and prevent the council from total collapse. Party Minister Sesel Zvidzai has since been dispatched to Masvingo to try and find a negotiated way forward.

MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora told SW Radio Africa on Monday that an "urgent and peaceful" way forward needs to be found, to ensure that the workers get paid and the council is able to keep functioning. Mwonzora explained that Zvidzai has been in meetings with the Finance Ministry to see if the government can help with the council's debt.

Mwonzora meanwhile denied that the council's cash flow problems are in any way linked to corruption in the province, despite the MDC-T recently launching an anti-corruption campaign there. The party launched a probe in October after reports of rampant financial mismanagement and corruption.

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