Unpaid Chitungwiza staff plunge into despair

Morale has reached rock-bottom at the Chitungwiza Municipality due to failure by the local authority to pay its workers.

It doesn’t make sense to demolish houses that were built 10 years ago.
It doesn’t make sense to demolish houses that were built 10 years ago.

“Even directors are not reporting for work. When they do so, it is only to check whether something has been done about the salaries. They spend most of their time pursuing personal business. Junior employees are also coming as and when they find it convenient,” said a middle management employee on condition of anonymity.

Salaries have not been paid for more than six months, although the workers were given “something” in December, said another employee. “It no longer makes sense to come to work. Where do we get the money for transport and food when we have gone for such a long time without salaries?” he said.

Because of the now frequent absenteeism, residents say they often find council doors locked.

Some staff are fetched from home to attend to critical issues such as repairs and refuse removal, with the workers being given paltry allowances for the time they would be on duty.

A recent survey by The Zimbabwean revealed that some staff members report for work as late as 11 a.m. and depart after a short time in the office. A skeleton staff attended to scores of residents, most of whom milled a rououtside the buildings.

Chitungwiza Mayor Phillip Mutoti insisted workers were not absconding. “The situation is normal and we don’t have problems with salaries as everyone has been paid on time,” he claimed. But he admted the municipality was facing myriad financial problems.

“Residents have not been paying rates and that has crippled our operations. Only a few are doing so and when they do, they are either late or they make part payment. It will always be difficult for us to sustain the council without timely payments,” Mutoti said.

Chitungwiza, which is battling to offer adequate service delivery, has also been affected by a 2013 government directive to cancel ratepayers’ debts.

Mutoti said rate payments were also affected by the decision by the local government ministry to demolish houses constructed without municipal authorisation. “Some of the people with houses earmarked for demolition were among our ratepayers and the moment they learnt that they would be removed, they stopped paying. It doesn’t make sense to demolish houses that were built 10 years ago. Where were the authorities?” said Mutoti.

Almost all municipalities across the country are struggling to keep afloat due to acute financial constraints, corruption and mismanagement.

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