THE $400 000 severance package handed to former Gweru town clerk Daniel Matawu has sparked outrage among residents, who blame the city fathers for acceding to the deal at a time when the local authority was struggling to provide services.
BY BRENNA MATENDERE
Gweru Urban legislator Brian Dube (MDC Alliance) urged the local authority to seek part of the package from the government since Matawu was fired by former Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, leading to the court challenge.
Matawu was suspended and later fired in July 2016 by a commission led by former Masvingo town clerk Tsunga Mhangami, which was running affairs of Gweru at the time after Kasukuwere had suspended all councillors.
Matawu’s dismissal followed recommendations by a board of inquiry appointed to probe allegations of corruption at Town House. He was found guilty on 15 counts of gross incompetence and neglect of duties.
Chiwundura legislator Brown Ndlovu (Zanu PF), whose peri-urban constituency includes a ward under Gweru City Council, expressed dissatisfaction over the $400 000 package in the Gweru Residents and Ratepayers’ Association (GRRA) WhatsApp group: “Effectively, he will be getting way more than his current salary for the next three years … sounds more like promotion.”
Residents took to the social media platform to vent their anger after Southern Eye first broke the story.
They said the figure was too high and the cash-strapped local authority will compromise service delivery in trying to settle the golden handshake.
“Is this the reason why council is disconnecting water supplies to residents so that they can raise money to pay Matawu? Is this why they have not been collecting garbage? And you expect residents to pay their bills? Mayor and councillors, you have shown insensitivity,” another resident fumed.
Other residents queried where the local authority would get the money to settle the claim of nearly half a million dollars.
Council finance committee chairperson and ward 3 councillor Martin Chivhoko refused to comment.
“I am not the council spokesperson,” he said.
Manford Gambiza, the council spokesperson, did not respond to written questions sent to him on his mobile phone after efforts to reach him had gone unsuccessful.
Matawu challenged his dismissal at the Bulawayo High Court and Justice Nicholas Mathonsi ruled in his favour in March this year and ordered his reinstatement.
By that time, the local authority had already hired Elizabeth Gwatipedza to fill the town clerk’s post and was, therefore, in a fix on how to deal with the matter, leading to an agreement between him and management that ensured he would just get his salary while not coming to work.
The new council a fortnight ago then appointed an ad hoc committee to resolve the issue resulting in the two parties entering an agreement to terminate Matawu’s contract by mutual consent and award him a severance package of $400 000.