Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
CASH strapped Gweru City Council has reportedly splashed over $100 000 on councillors and management’s travel and subsistence allowances for a week- long strategic planning workshop being held in Bulawayo.
Mayor councillor Josiah Makombe confirmed the workshop which he said started yesterday (Monday) to Friday saying it was a requirement from the central Government.
He however, refuted claims that council has used over $100 000 in accommodation bookings and travel and subsistence allowances for the participants saying the amount was around $40 000.
“It’s not true, there is no way we can use such an amount. We are a very responsible council. Like all local authorities, it’s a requirement from central Government that we look at our strategic planning. It’s a workshop which we cannot avoid as a council, but our bill is not even close to $40 000,” said Clr Makombe.
The local authority has 16 councillors attending who will be joined by members from management, residents’ association representatives and some Government officials.
“That figure being thrown around is mischievous. After all councillors, management, residents’ associations representatives and also representatives from the Government are attending the workshop in Bulawayo meaning to say its above board and is important for the growth of the city,” said Clr Makombe.
He said the choice of venue was important to show the importance of the workshop to the development of the city.
However, residents said it was unfortunate that the local authority chose a venue outside the city when they could have cut costs by holding the workshop in Gweru.
“Yes the strategic planning workshop could be important to the town but we are afraid the choice of venue is wrong. Why go to Bulawayo when we have comfortable and luxurious places? Is council sincere about cutting costs? We feel it’s just a means of ripping off the rate payers’ money. But the bottom line is they could have done it here and save costs,” said a representative from one of the Gweru residents associations not taking part in the workshop.