Victoria Falls Town Council has resolved to lease its two loss-making beer gardens to employees, arguing that the outlets were draining the local authority’s meagre resources.
By Nokuthaba Dlamini
Council blamed the poor performance of Chinotimba Old Bar and Busi Tavern on high salaries, saying workers earned twice as much as those employed by other bars in the resort town.
Town clerk Christopher Dube told Southern Eye that 12 council employees had already expressed interest in taking over the bars and negotiations for the takeovers would begin soon.
He said the decision to lease the bars followed a directive by the government.
“This was a directive from the government, which allowed us to do away with any entities that could not generate money for council,” Dube said. “We have engaged the employees who are affected and most of them have indicated that they are willing to take over those bars and about 12 of them are prepared to take over.”
He said the local authority decided against going to tender to first give its employees a chance.
“Instead of us going to tender, we have decided to give first preference to the employees because it is an advantage to them,” Dube said.
“It’s a process and we have to negotiate with them and once that is agreed, we will agree on how much they will pay for these two bars and how they are going to pay depending on their profits.”
He said it was difficult for council to make profits from the two entities because the wage bill was unsustainable.
“We pay our workers double salaries when compared to other bars,” Dube added.
“Our lowest paid employee gets a minimum salary of $480 compared to other bars where workers get less and that is what contributed to the downfall of our bars.”
Council has been struggling to maintain the two bars and the structures are now dilapidated.
Last year, 16 patrons escaped death when an asbestos shed they were sitting under collapsed at the Chinotimba beer garden.
Victoria Falls’ decision to lease the beer gardens follows moves by other municipalities such as Bulawayo, Harare and Chitungwiza.
Last year, Chitungwiza Town Council leased out all its 11 beer halls to its employees, citing viability problems.