Gweru residents refuse to meet council

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GWERU City Council

BY STEPHEN CHADENGA
GWERU City Council was on Tuesday forced to abandon its 2022 budget review consultation meeting after residents demanded that council first furnishes them with hard and soft copies of the budget

Residents associations argued that council was in the habit of forcing residents to “rubber-stamp” issues to do with service delivery without genuinely engaging them first.

“In past meetings, we requested that before we come to consultation meetings, there is need to give us hard copies of the deliberations so that we come to the meetings well-equipped and informed,” said Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association director Cornelia Selipiwe.

“Prior information furnishing ensures genuine consultations so that council avoids using residents in rubber-stamping its decisions.”

Gweru Residents Forum director Charles Mazorodze said there was nothing to discuss since residents were in the dark on the agenda.

He then called on the meeting to be abandoned and urged council to put its house in order.

“Give residents documents prior to meetings so that they are properly consulted,” Mazorodze said.

Prior to the cancellation of the meeting, deputy mayor Cleopas Shiri had said the country’s inflationary economic environment had grounded council operations.

“Our budget has lost value and as a city, we are unable to continue operating,” Shiri said.

He said council was not necessarily proposing a supplementary budget, but to “rebase the 2022 budget on the current foreign currency exchange dynamics.”

The Zimbabwe Urban Council Workers Union (ZUCWU) has also called on local authorities to rebase their budgets so that employees get their salaries in the United States dollar equivalent.

ZUCWU secretary-general Kudakwashe Munengiwa yesterday told Southern Eye that workers’ salaries were being eroded by fluctuations in the foreign currency exchange rate.

“What we are saying is that there is need to rebase the budgets into the equivalent of US$ as at January 2022,” he said.

“For example, in January, council was paying its lowest grade worker $38 000 and that value was equivalent to US$317. So, if the real value was US$317 as at January, give the lowest paid worker that amount or its equivalent.”

Munengiwa added: “But currently, $38 000 is now less than US$100 and without rebasing, it simply means workers are being shortchanged. So, by calling for rebasing, we are simply demanding restoration of the real value of workers’ salaries.”

The ZUCWU boss said workers across the country were not calling for salary increments, but the return to value of their salaries.

“It is unfair to expect workers to deliver a service at a discounted price,” he added.

The disparity between the foreign currency exchange auction or bank rate and the parallel market rate has eroded the value of salaries across all sectors of the economy over the past months.

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