Sources said council bought three vehicles worth US$150 000 for senior managers recently.
Town clerk Obert Muzawazi, received a Mercedes Benz ML worth US$60 000 while the remainder was shared between the director of Housing and Community Services, Sternard Mapurisa, and engineer, Donald Nyatoti, who got Toyata Isuzu double cabs each.
Muzawazi confirmed receiving the vehicles.
Combined Mutare Residents and Ratepayers’ Association (Comrra) chairman, Desmond Mwedzi, has slammed the move and threatened to spearhead demonstrations.
“It comes as a surprise that the council can manage to buy these vehicles for the top managers for that kind of money yet service delivery is going down,” he said.
He said council employees were poorly paid and were not getting their salaries on time.
The workers have not received their bonuses for last year “but the town clerk and his senior managers find it prudent to buy luxury cars using the ratepayers’ money. We will not rest until sanity prevails at council”.
Mwedzi said residents were aware that Mutare mayor, Brian James, was suspended from council to block the auditing of council finances.
He said the association had been calling for the audit of council books and other books including, Pungwe Breweries, where “we know that there is rampant corruption going on there”.
A council employee in the workers’ committee who cannot be named to avoid victimisation said:
“This is painful and at the same time, heartless. Council employees are earning peanuts and we have not received last year’s bonuses.”
The worker also confirmed the imminent strike adding that the workers were in the process of engaging their lawyers to assist them on all the procedures.
“This time, it is going to be a massive strike that has never been seen at the council offices before, because it will be a joint demonstration where all concerned residents and stakeholders are going to join in,” he said.
But Muzawazi said the purchase of the vehicles was above board, as it was done in consultation with the Ministry of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development.
“We had consultations with the ministry and it is also under the Urban Councils’ Act that councils can buy service delivery vehicles under the capital account,” said Muzawazi.
“I know that those people making noise have got an agenda. We did not use the ratepayers’ money, but it was from the capital account that enables councils to buy assets to facilitate smooth service delivery.”
Muzawazi said the managers had been using their personal vehicles to carry out council duties for a long time.
“For example, myself, I have been using a B1800 truck while Mr Mapurisa has been using his personal truck (a Mazda B1600 truck) and Mr Nyatoti was using a pool vehicle.
“Let me remind those who are making unnecessary noise that Mutare was the only major city in the whole country that had no vehicles for its top management,” said Muzawazi.
In other cities, he said, senior officials were driving Fortuners, classy Mercedes Benzes and Prados.
bonus a privilege, not a right: Muzawazi
On the issue of salaries, Muzawazi said: “We have been able to pay our workers monthly. Comparing with other councils, you can see that we have not skipped a single month.”
He said the issue of bonus for workers was not a right but a privilege. “
“It is regrettable that some of our workers think that bonus is a right, it is a privilege. Our employees are very privileged that we are giving them bonuses.
“As of last week, the employees have started getting their bonuses and I do not know what they mean if they say they did not get their bonuses.”