MUTARE City Council workers have accused Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa of lying to them just before the July 31 elections that he would organise payment of their salary arrears once his party was voted into power.
BY FARAI MATEBVU
Mutasa allegedly pledged, just before elections early this year, to lobby diamond companies operating in Marange district to foot the city council salary’s arrears once Zanu PF was voted into power, but more than 100 days after winning resoundingly, he has not honoured the pledge.
The workers have salary arrears for three months and have also not been paid bonuses for 2012 as well as this year.
Mutasa yesterday denied making the pledge.
Workers who spoke to The Standard urged Mutasa to fulfil his pledge saying their families were suffering as a result of non-payment of salaries by the local authority.
There workers said they were failing to pay rentals, school fees for their children or even enjoy the festive holidays like others, because they do not have money.
“He [Mutasa] made the pledge before elections and never came back, leaving us to conclude that he was doing it to curry votes from us because he needed assistance,” said one of the workers.
Zimbabwe Urban Councils Workers Union (Zucwu) senior administrator, Progress Mudondo confirmed that Mutasa had not honoured his pledge.
He added there was also no sound explanation from council regarding the salaries.
“Our understanding is that the pledge has not been honoured and what we are getting from council is the same old story. They say there is no money and we are tired of this. Employees were only paid in February, July and November, excluding their bonuses,” he said.
The issue of bonuses has spilled into the courts. The High Court has since granted a warrant of execution and the matter awaits property attachment by the Deputy Sheriff to recover employees’ bonuses.
Mutare City Council town clerk, Obert Muzavazi confirmed that the local authority was facing some problems in paying its workers. He said Mutasa was just trying to help the cash-strapped local authority because he was a national leader.
“VaMutasa hapana chavakatadza [Mutasa did not do anything wrong] by pledging to assist us. He was doing it as a national leader,” said Muzavavi. “There is no reason why he must formalise his pledge and force him to write to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Patrick Chinamasa. As I see it, Mutasa is a leader and the issue is pertinent. There is nothing wrong with leaders wanting to help.”
He added: “We are having some problems in clearing our salary backlog just like any other local authority in the country. The majority of local councils in Zimbabwe are in arrears in one way or the other.”
Mutasa yesterday denied that he made the pledge, saying he was misquoted.
“What I said is that it was ironic that workers in Mutare were struggling when they have diamonds close by,” said Mutasa. “I never said I would talk to diamond companies to pay them. I am sure they misquoted me.”
Since last year, Mutare City Council has been experiencing cash flow problems and the situation was worsened by a recent directive by Local Government minister, Ignatius Chombo ordering all local authorities to write-off residents’ water and rates arrears dating back to 2009.
Mutare was owed about US$20 million by residents, business entities and government institutions.