Bulawayo mayor Thaba Moyo on Wednesday blasted journalists branding them “merchants of lies” for allegedly reporting falsely on the operations of the local authority.
In a move uncharacteristic of the mayor, Moyo delayed the beginning of a full council meeting on Wednesday “to set the record straight on some operations of the council that were wrongly reported in newspapers”.
“The first lie is that of retrenchments; that we want to retrench 1 000 workers,” the mayor said.
“As a city we have come a long way and cannot overnight say we want to retrench people. I am sure you (journalists) want to liken us to the companies that have been retrenching people. You want to turn around and say if the local authority itself is doing it (retrenching) why not these companies.
“There are many options that we have on the issue and that (retrenchment) is at the tail end. It is not going to be considered at all.”
Weekend media reports suggested the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) was mulling the retrenchment of 1 000 workers as a cost-cutting measure.
The reports quoted a confidential paper by the local authority’s Finance Department, which indicated BCC was planning to lay off 1 000 workers as a way of reducing the wage bill.
The reports said the Finance Department had written to councillors seeking permission to negotiate with the Bulawayo Municipal Workers’ Union to retrench at least 1 000 of its estimated 4 000 employees.
The reports said a decision on the matter was expected to be made at a full council meeting on Wednesday. However, the issue did not feature on the agenda of the Wednesday council meeting.
The mayor said it was also untrue that there were “factions” in the local authority with one led by himself and the other by the deputy mayor, Amen Mpofu.
Reports said as a result of the “factionalism” in the local authority the mayor and the deputy mayor had refused to travel in the same vehicle to Harare last week.