The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is mulling retrenching 1 000 workers as a cost-cutting measure, barely a month after management splashed over $2 million on top-of-the-range vehicles.
Council bought expensive vehicles such as Land Rovers, Land Cruisers, Toyota Prados, Toyota Raiders and Toyota Vigos for heads of departments even though the local authority is failing to pay its workers on time.
In a confidential report by the Finance Department, BCC is planning to lay off 1 000 workers as a way of cutting the wage bill.
The Finance Department wrote to councillors seeking permission to negotiate with the Bulawayo Municipal Workers’ Union to retrench at least 1 000 of its estimated 4 000 employees.
A decision on the matter is expected to be made at a full council meeting next Wednesday.
If passed, it means 1 000 breadwinners would be out of employment, a thousand households would all of a sudden be unable to continue living in the city because they would be without income to pay rent or buy food.
BCC senior public relations officer Nesisa Mpofu yesterday confirmed council proposed to lay off the workers as soon as the matter was discussed and a consensus reached at the next full council meeting.
Bulawayo’s 29 councillors, all from MDC-T and MDC, meet every first Wednesday of the month to debate issues that affect the daily lives of the city’s residents.
Councillors told NewsDay on Friday that even if the proposal was rejected at the full council meeting, management was likely to retrench the workers.
The management is accused of overriding the city fathers, most of whom are said to be “not so educated”.
A councillor who spoke on condition of anonymity said he would oppose the move to lay off workers at a time when many families in Bulawayo were battling to make ends meet.
He said the planned retrenchment was ill-timed given that the council management was taking delivery of top-of-the-range vehicles while Mayor Thaba Moyo was chauffeur-driven in a $65 000 Dodge Journey vehicle, whose purchase sparked a fierce row with residents last year.
The planned retrenchment of workers comes at a time when council has also started budget consultations for 2012.
BCC is saddled with a $9,2 million Zesa debt while service delivery is crumbling.
Burst sewer and water pipes are a common sight mostly in high-density suburbs, while the quality of water has come under scrutiny.