MUTARE residents have raised alarm at the rate at which council was firing its workers and the huge amounts spent on settling labour-related legal issues with the affected workers.
BY KENNETH NYANGANI/CLAYTON MASEKESA
This came amid reports that the local authority has spent over $90 000 in labour-related issues as fired workers contested their dismissals.
The residents accused town clerk Joshua Maligwa of triggering most of the dismissals “to settle personal scores’’.
“The rate at which people are being fired is alarming. Ratepayers’ representatives are not in the picture as to the charges levelled against the employees, which in most cases are resulting in prolonged legal battles that continue to drain the coffers of the local authority through legal battles,’’ Edson Dube, of the United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers’ Trust, said.
“If there are genuine dismissals or suspensions, why are they not made in public? We know that stating the charges will not compromise investigations. It seems as if it is the only service the council is providing.”
A source at Mutare City Council said Maligwa had since his appointment early this year, fired three senior managers who, however, contested and won their cases at the Labour Court.
These include former human resources manager Aaron Chemvura, finance director Lloyd Musasa, acting chamber secretary Gladys Muneta and finance deputy director Lovemore Makande.
But council spokesperson Sprein Mutiwi yesterday dismissed residents’ claims as baseless.
“I think they are out of touch with some facts, the issue of Aaron Chemvura and others is no longer in court. On the recent suspension, can you keep someone with fraud charges? Honestly, can you do that?’’ he queried.
Meanwhile, council has extended a reprieve to residents with outstanding bills to forward and negotiate payment plans, as the local authority battles to recover over $40 million owed in unpaid rates.
“City of Mutare is encouraging all stakeholders to pay up their monthly bills and devote additional payment for servicing outstanding balances,’’ Maligwa said on Friday.“All stakeholders are encouraged to take advantage of this phase. To bring convenience to all our valued stakeholders and in line with the thrust of ease of doing business, the local authority has adopted the multiple payment methods,’’ he added.
Council, which is apparently operating on a hand-to-mouth budget, has over the past few years been struggling to fix roads, water and sewer systems, collect garbage and pay workers’ salaries on time, due to cashflow challenges.