BUSINESS came to a standstill at Marondera Town Council (MTC) yesterday after more than 60 retrenched workers besieged the premises demanding payment of their outstanding packages and salaries.
by JAIROS SAUNYAMA
Early last year, the Zanu PF-led council retrenched 100 workers after securing a $2,1 million loan facility from a local bank. But information at hand shows that council only paid part of the money to the former workers amid allegations that a big chunk of the loan cannot be accounted for.
When NewsDay visited the council offices yesterday, the former employees had started a fire at the front offices, saying they wanted to warm themselves, as they had come to camp.
Council employees had to suspend operations, as the former workers peacefully took over the premises while council management officials left their offices fearing facing the angry retrenchees.
Police were called to monitor the situation. The former workers’ representative, Taurai Gumbodete, said council had been avoiding honouring its promise to pay the retrenched workers despite securing a loan. He said there were fears that council bosses converted the money to their use at the expense of the workers.
“We are here because they promised to give us the money they owe us. Since October last year, we have been patient. The council management has left their offices, they are avoiding us, what kind of management is that? The mayor came earlier and tried to engage the management, but in vain,” Gumbodete said.
Another worker, Clint Tongami, said the town’s financial director had told them that they would get their money yesterday and accused the council bosses of abusing council funds.
“When this started, council secured a loan facility to give 100 retrenched workers, but here we are today, we have no money. Where is the money they took from the bank? It now appears as if we have committed a crime, but that is not the truth. The finance director said we would get our money on May 3, and today is the day. We have made this fire so that we keep ourselves warm, some of us came here early in the morning,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from town clerk, Josiah Musuwo and mayor, Anthony Makwindi were fruitless.
In January last year, council laid off 100 workers in line with government’s directive of 70:30 salary-service delivery ratio. The municipality then secured a more than $2m loan facility to pay the retrenched workers, most of whom were in managerial posts.
However, the retrenched workers are yet to receive their money for over a year now.