The council based the dismissals on the July 17 Supreme Court ruling that allows employers to lay-off workers with three monthsâ€™ notice. Shurugwi council town secretary Solomon Siziba said the retrenchment was in line with the common law that â€œallows any employer to act like-wiseâ€.Â Those who lost their jobs were mainly from non-skilled sections such as municipal police, garbage collection and lower levels of the finance and administration services.
However, in an interview, MDC-T Midlands secretary for local government affairs, Gibson Chauke, confirmed reports that the lay-off exercise had been politicised.
â€œShurugwi council is basically small in its workforce and there are no reasonable grounds why it should be laying off workers. We are faced with a situation where the council has laid off over 50 workers – all of whom are card carrying members of the MDC-T. There has been victimisation of political opponents on the basis of the Supreme Court ruling,â€ he said. The affected members include Ward 5 chairman Silas Mutero,Â his deputy Douglas Wanzwa, organising secretary Gondayi Zamuchiya, youth chairman Prosper Manguni, former organising secretaryÂ Chirikure Chirikure and Ward 10 chairman Solomon Nzapu.
The fact that the development comes at a time when both Shurugwi South and North constituencies are controlled by Zanu (PF) MPs shows the political agenda that is involved, he said.
â€œZanu (PF) is already preparing for the 2018 elections and they have used the law to weed out any threats in both the council seats elections and the parliamentary posts ahead of 2018. Thatâ€™s why they have sacked a majority of MDC-T sympathisers from the council in order to weaken our partyâ€™s activism,â€ said Chauke.
Town secretary Siziba did not respond to questions sent to him after officials at his office kept saying he was either out of office or locked up in â€œserious meetingsâ€.
He has been on record saying the laying-off of the workers was in line with the councilâ€™s â€œstrategy to right-size its workforce.â€
The development comes hard on the heels of the Gweru Councilâ€™s suspension of all the MDC-T councillors. Zanu (PF) has been accused of fuelling the development in order to again impose its grip on the council.