Chinhoyi Bureau
Cash-strapped Chinhoyi Municipality is set to retrench about 140 workers as it seeks to streamline operations and reduce the salary bill. Workers at the local authority have gone for four months without salaries.It currently has a staff complement of over 400 and intends to remain with 280.

Speaking after meeting workers yesterday, Town Clerk Mr Mungororo Mazai said the municipality had applied for $1 million to go towards meeting statutory obligations and to pacify restive workers who were threatening industrial action over salary arrears.

Chinhoyi Municipality owes statutory bodies such as NSSA, Zimra and pension contributions amounting to $500 000, while workers who have not been paid since December last year were calling for the heads of management and councillors for failing to run the municipality.

Addressing the workers who demanded a meeting with management, the town clerk said talks for a loan with two local banks were at an advanced stage.

“We are currently engaged with banks such as Cabs and ZB Bank with a view to boosting our working capital and also to meet our statutory obligations, which include workers’ pension remissions,” he said.

Among the workers’ grievances were numerous trips and seminars that councillors and management were attending at a time when they were failing to pay workers.

Said one worker: “Like most other people I have a chronic health condition that requires medication constantly but because we are not being paid, I am forced to skip some of the prescribed medication.

“Councillors and management are always attending seminars for the sake of getting allowances.”

However, the town clerk justified this saying councillors were visiting other local authorities under a peer review programme sponsored by Government and a UN agency.

Workers alleged that councillors were getting $750 in monthly allowances against the Government stipulated $225 per month.

However, Mr Mazai denied that councillors were getting allowances above the Government gazetted range.

Zimbabwe Urban and Rural Councils Workers union secretary general Mr Bernard Dhanda said local authorities across the country were defying government gazette salary scales for management by not putting salary structures.

“Salary structures have not been institutionalised which will ensure that Government’s directed salary scales are met. Currently about 10 people in the councils across the country are benefiting from 75 percent of the cake while the rest wallow in poverty,” he said.