Council pays workers in supermarket vouchers

Marondera municipality was forced to pay its workers in kind in December, raising fears among the employees that the payment arrangement could be a permanent trend.

The Zanu (PF)-led local authority, whose workers are predominately President Mugabe’s followers after casual contracts for MDC-T workers were terminated, paid workers with OK Supermarket shopping vouchers.

Angry workers owed more than seven months’ salaries had staged a sit-in at the local authority’s head offices, baying for the management staff’s blood. The workers grabbed finance director Kachingwe’s car and said they would only release it when they were paid their dues. To diffuse tensions, management made a last minute arrangement with OK Supermarket to give workers $100 worth of groceries through the voucher payment plan. The workers were paid another $100 in cash after the Christmas holidays. Those who refused to be party to the voucher arrangement received $200 in cash later. “Management was insensitive to the plight of workers and had connived to pay the salaries after the festive season,” said one worker.

The workers said the voucher system did not suit their circumstances, since they had financial obligations such as school fee payments and medical expenses.

When reached for comment, Marondera town clerk Josiah Musuwo told The Zimbabwean that disgruntled workers were not paid December salaries in kind.

“In brief, the workers were paid through a last minute Council-OK Supermarket voucher arrangement. This was not payment in kind, since we wanted to ensure that all workers had food at Christmas,” Musuwo said. Marondera is also struggling to pay off the 84 MDC-T workers whose contracts were ended after the 31, 2013 Zanu (PF) election victory.

The dismissed workers have taken the case to the labour court.

Marondera is not alone in struggling to pay its workers. Mutare failed to pay full salaries in Decembe.

“Though we managed to pay full workers’ salaries last November, we only afforded half the remunerations in December. Council is currently strategising on how best to clear the December salary balances,” said Mutare mayor Tatenda Nhamarare.

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