Council diverts home-seekers’ money to pay workers

The cash-strapped Zanu (PF) Marondera Municipality has allegedly diverted thousands of dollars from deposits paid by residents on its housing waiting list to pay $122,342 in outstanding salaries to 89 dismissed MDC-T workers.

Moses Tshimukeni Mahlangu:  workers dismissal illegal.
Moses Tshimukeni Mahlangu: workers dismissal illegal.

Sources said the decision was taken following directives from Zanu (PF) that the workers should be paid off as a matter of urgency to avoid their appearance at council premises as they were an “eye-sore”. The diverted funds are expected to be reimbursed after council has sold some of its cattle.

Residential stands in the Chitepo area housing scheme are selling for $3,500 each and prospective property owners were asked to pay in instalments.

Last Thursday the council, which comprises nine Zanu and three MDC-T councillors, convened an emergency full council meeting where the diversion of the money was agreed. On Friday it proposed to share $20,000 among the workers and asked them to wait for the balance. But they refused, saying they wanted their money paid in full to enable them start a new life.

Sources said contributions deducted from the workers’ monthly salaries towards the National Social Security Authority pension scheme did not reach their destination.

The council recently fired over 143 workers, some of whom had served the local authority for over four years, following a declaration by Marondera Central Zanu (PF) Member of Parliament, Ray Kaukonde, in a council meeting that he would not work with MDC councillors and workers.

In an interview with The Zimbabwean, he declared: “Please get me right. I, Ray Kaukonde, will never work with MDC since I champion Zanu (PF) agenda. I would rather work with losing Zanu (PF) councillors. Honestly speaking, there is no way I can find common ground with MDC.”

Marondera Town Clerk Josiah Musuwo, advised this newspaper to talk to the mayor, since the issue ‘is creating a lot of headaches for me’. Mayor Anthony Makwindi declined to comment and referred questions back to Musuwo.

The General Secretary for the Zimbabwe Urban Councils Workers’ Union, Moses Tshimukeni Mahlangu, says the dismissals were illegal.

Meanwhile, some residents whose money was diverted have threatened to take legal action against the local authority. “Legal action is an option since we did not agree with council that they use our deposits for other purposes,” said a prospective home owner, who chose not to be identified.

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