Masvingo succumbs to ratepayer pressure

Masvingo City Council has bowed down to pressure from residents and has immediately stopped hiring vehicles from the Central Mechanical Equipment Department (CMED).

The move to stop hiring vehicles at a cost of some $100,000 a month, came barely a week after Mayor Hubert Fidze was held hostage by residents demanding that the local authority stop hiring the vehicles.

The fleet from the CMED, including a mayoral vehicle, was returned this week. “We have returned the vehicles to the CMED with immediate effect because we saw that the situation might get out of hand,” said Adolf Gusha, the town clerk.

But it has emerged that the local authority has now resorted to hiring vehicles from its heads of departments – again bleeding the council coffers dry. The Zimbabwean has also established that council has resolved to give $55,000 to all its heads of departments as car loans, at less than six percent interest per annum.

Council sources said heads of departments would be paid half a dollar per kilometre for using their personal vehicles in addition to getting free fuel from the local authority.

Masvingo United Residents and Rate Payers Association has ordered the council to stop the new deal arguing that it will be costly again. “It is not that we were against the CMED vehicles but we were against the whole deal and for the council to start hiring personal vehicles it is just the same and we are totally against this ,”said MURRA in a statement.

Masvingo residents also want the council to finalise a labour dispute with its entire workforce that has seen nearly the entire council fleet gathering dust at the deputy sheriff’s offices after it was attached by the messenger of court.

Residents have vowed to mobilise all rat payers to boycott paying rates and tariffs if the council does not address their demands.

Just last week municipal officers had to come to the mayor’s rescue after residents held him hostage for almost an hour following a meeting to discuss deteriorating service delivery , the hiring of vehicles from the CMED and the need for the local authority to finalise a labour dispute with its workers.

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