Gweru plans car spend while workers go unpaid

The troubled local council management has resolved to buy three vehicles for top managers and town clerk Emmanuel Musara for a cost of close to $200,000.

The decision comes at a time when the local authority is unable to pay workers or provide services such as refuse collection and water supplies.

Last month, the city went for three days without water after the Zimbabwe National Water Authority disconnected the small mining town over a $1m debt. The debt had built up since 2009 and sources said the council management was asked to pay back in instalments but defaulted.

Despite the financial constraints, the minutes of the January 21 meeting of the city’s five directors who make up the procurement committee said they resolved to go ahead with buying vehicles for top managers. The procurement committee is chaired by town clerk Emmanuel Musara.

The minutes specify that one of the vehicles would be of a Chevrolet and would be used by Musara. The price was $57, 000. Cost and names of three other directors’ vehicles were not mentioned but sources said the total budget was close to $200,000.

The minutes were endorsed by the city’s finance director Rejoice Maweni, who is believed to be in line for one of the cars.

The minutes read: “Members noted with concern that the purchase of town clerk and heads of department personal issue vehicles has become long outstanding. The director of finance agreed that she would try to mobilise financial resources to purchase the town clerk’s vehicle and for heads of departments.”

This comes barely a month after the local authority recovered a deposit of $30,000 from Croco Motors, which was part-payment towards a mayoral vehicle.

In December last year, mayor Matenda Madzoke refused to take delivery of the mayoral vehicle. He instructed council to recover a $30,000 deposit for the Isuzu D-tec vehicle, whose cost had been put at $58,000.

He urged the council to use the money to buy two tractors and trailers to ease refuse collection challenges.

Speaking about the latest decisions, Madzoke said buying the cars for the directors would be discussed at the coming full council meeting where a final resolution would be made.

It is unlikely that the councillors will approve the matter, having already questioned Musara’s annual salary and called for streamlined packages for top managers. According to a salary schedule for last year, Musara pocketed $135,000.

The benefits were described as out of proportion to those of middle management employees, who get an average monthly gross salary of $442.

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