SOME Chitungwiza Town Council (CTC) employees are reportedly collecting revenue from defaulters for personal use and re-connecting water supplies without approval from the local authority, The Standard has heard.
BY SOFIA MAPURANGA
The employees, who have not been paid for the past six months, resorted to the strategy after allegedly reaching a stalemate with their employer, whom they accused of “being oblivious to their plight”.
They are reportedly collecting amounts ranging between US$10 and US$30 from defaulters after which they would re-connect water supplies.
A council employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the workers had no other option to enable them to survive.
“Council management is not affected by council failure to pay workers their salaries because the majority of them have a plethora of allowances,” he said. “Even if those in management do not get their monthly salaries, which I am sure they get, they can still take care of their rentals and travel expenses from the various allowances they give each other while we languish in poverty.”
The employee said the majority of the workers who are lodgers, were given notices by their landlords for failing to pay rentals on time.
“Imagine telling your landlord that you have not received your salary for four consecutive months. Most of us were chased away by our landlords from their houses because it was too much,” said the employee, who said he and his family were now staying with a relative.
A council official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the local authority last paid the workers full salaries in September 2012.
In October 2012, he said, some workers received part of their salaries.
Town Clerk, George Makunde confirmed the workers had not been paid for the past six months.
“True, the workers have not been paid their salaries because council coffers are somewhat dry,” said Makunde.
He claimed that council was failing to pay workers because most residents were not paying their rates. Apart from that, he said, the local authority was also facing a myriad of pending litigation cases.
“Council is reeling under immense pressure from litigations for cases that arose before my time,” said Makunde, who however could not divulge how much council had spent on these cases. “We continue to dialogue with the view to pay off all litigations so that we start strategising for the council.”
On Thursday, Makunde said council had organised small amounts for the workers to use over the Easter holidays.
“We have organised nominal payments for them to go for holiday. We have met with the residents and we continue to dialogue with the view to map the way forward. Otherwise in the interim, we are somewhat subdued,” he said.
True to his words, the payments were nominal.
There was chaos at council offices on Friday as the workers jostled for the US$100 advance allowance they were being given by management.
Residents who spoke to The Standard said they stopped paying rates because of poor service delivery by the city fathers.
Svodai Bhema of Unit J in Seke said, “We get water once a week or sometimes after 10 days and they expect us to queue at their offices paying for their failure? They can dream on!”
She said residents keep getting exorbitant water bills and “engagement of council officials at both the council head offices and Seke South are a waste of time.”
Council owed us$30 million
The council is owed close to US$30 million over unpaid bills and since last year, it has failed in its bid to entice residents to settle their bills.
Since December last year, the council has been advising residents that if they pay half of their debt, the other half would be cancelled, a move which most residents described as a fundraising strategy “against poor service delivery”.