From George Maponga in MASVINGO
Masvingo City faces collapse as property including 100 vehicles — among them fire tenders, road maintenance equipment, office furniture and computers worth hundreds of thousands of dollars — will go under the hammer on Friday after it lost a $3,5 million salary dispute with workers in court.
Most of the property that will be auctioned on Friday at the Zimhide Yard in the Masvingo Industrial area had been gathering dust at the Messenger of Court premises for the past three years.
This was after the property was attached when council lost the salaries lawsuit against its workers at the Labour Court in December 2012.
However, council appealed against the Labour Court’s decision at the High Court, but lost again recently, paving the way for the impending auction of the attached property.
In a notice on Thursday, Masvingo-based Two Muzaya Auctioneers said it had been instructed by the Sheriff of the High Court to hold a public auction next Friday at 10am in a case pitting the Masvingo City Council Workers’ Committee and the City Council.
According to the notice, the items that will be auctioned are two fire tenders, office chairs, desks, computer sets, printers and more than 100 vehicles, including the Mayoral Mercedes Benz.
Other items that will go under the hammer include tippers, front-end loaders, refuse removal trucks and graders, crane lifter and more than 10 tractors.
If the auction goes ahead Masvingo City would have virtually collapsed, as the city will struggle to collect refuse, maintain roads and other services to residents.
The impending auction of the two functional fire tenders will also spell doom for the city of more than 100 000 people in the event of fire outbreaks or road accidents.
Fire tender services will have to be sourced either from Zvishavane, about 100km away, or Chiredzi, which is over 200km from Masvingo. Council employees will also struggle to operate without office furniture and computers, which are critical in conducting billing services.
There are fears that more council property, even including immovable assets such as buildings, might also be attached as the property that is awaiting auctioning might fail to raise the targeted US$3,5 million, together with Messenger of Court fees.
Masvingo Town Clerk Mr Adolph Gusha said he was aware of plans to carry out the auction, but claimed that it was legally impossible.
“I have read the notice in the paper, but I do not think it’s legally possible to auction those assets next week, because we have an appeal at the Supreme Court. How can they go ahead with the auction when our papers are at the Supreme Court?”
Masvingo City Council workers dragged their employer to the Labour Court at the beginning of 2012, demanding salary arrears amounting to $3,5 million backdated to the advent of dollarisation in 2009.
The workers won the case after the court passed a default judgment because council had failed to file an opposing application.