Management and councillors clash over retrenchments

The call last week by Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo for the cash-strapped Mutare City Council to retrench staff has strained the fragile relationship between management and councillors.

Chombo
Chombo

Some councillors say some managers and senior permanent staff should also be retrenched in order to channel more resources towards service delivery. Management has refused.

Chombo’s letter dated 5 June 2014 addressed to Town Clerk Obert Muzawazi reads: “This office is pleased to inform you that the minister has approved the Mutare City Council’s ($20 million) 2014 budget.

“Please note that it was emphasised that there is need for you to cut costs on employees’ salaries. This could be by way of retrenching. The anticipated outcome is that 70% of the budget will have to go towards the deliverables with 30% apportioned for employment costs. The budget has to be streamlined to meet the dictates of ZimAsset.”

The council, which has been struggling to clear the salary backlog for its 1 700 workers, laid off about 300 contract workers in April in a bid to reduce labour costs. More contract workers could be rendered jobless.

Said a councilor on condition of anonymity: “This should also affect the management. There are some positions within the management that have become a liability. Why should this be targeted to contract workers only? Even the permanent staff should also be retrenched. The exercise will compromise service delivery and throw many people onto the streets.

“Contract workers are the ones that are working on major service delivery zones. They are the ones that are cleaning toilets, refuse removal and roads among other essential services.”

Another councillor added: “There are a lot of managers and top staff just sitting in the offices doing nothing. They should also be retrenched. There is need to have a thorough audit of the human resources department.”

Ward 19 councillor, Kudakwashe Chisango, said there was lack of will by council management to come up with an alternative solution to the problem. “Corruption is rampant in the council and this needs to be addressed,” he said.

The local authority is struggling to foot its wage bill with workers having gone for months without salaries.

Post published in: News

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