Innocent Ruwende and Farai Mukuwane
MDC-T Harare councillors headed for Kariba yesterday for a vacation at a time workers have gone for five months without salaries while Zanu-PF councillors boycotted the trip demanding that the resources be used for service delivery.
A luxurious house boat has been hired for the 28 MDC-T councillors.
Deputy Mayor Christopher Mbanga also boycotted the trip.
Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni is believed to have fund-raised for the trip.
Zanu-PF councillors said Clr Manyenyeni should have fundraised for the poor workers who are struggling to make ends meet because of non-payment of their salaries.
Clr Manyenyeni defended the trip saying it was funded by his corporate associates.
“The event is not being bankrolled by the city in any way. The event was announced during a council meeting and I said that Minister Kasukuwere (Local Government and Public Works Minister Savior Kasukuwere) had enquired about how the trip was being funded and I explained to him that the city was not paying for it. Councillors have gone on the trip on their own accord,” he said.
Clr Manyenyeni said the trip would not in any way affect workers’ welfare as no council funds were being used.
However, Mbare Flats councillor Innocent Maseko (Zanu-PF) said it was inappropriate for the city fathers to go on a sponsored vacation while workers were suffering and service delivery was plummeting to unacceptable levels.
He said the city was even failing to collect refuse.
“Workers have gone unpaid for five months. It portrays a bad image to be seen wining and dining. As zanu-PF councillors we have come together and we are in solidarity with the workers because we feel we cannot be seen celebrating while workers are languishing in poverty.
“If the mayor can find sponsorship for outside trips why can’t he find salaries for the workers? We have cut committee meetings and even a full council meeting just to go to Kariba for unimportant things as if the Easter holiday was not enough,” he said.
He said the trip was detrimental to service delivery and even though funds were outsourced.
Clr Maseko said the ordinary worker would not understand it.
Urban and Rural Councils Workers Union (ZURCWU) secretary Mr Bernard Dhanda said the vacation shows lack of prioritisation on the part of the city fathers.
“As unions we think they are taking advantage of our choice to abandon strikes as we appreciate that dialogue is for everyone’s benefit.
“The minister (Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere) must stop these things because they are detrimental to the nation. If the mayor outsourced for the trip he surely can outsource for workers salaries. We are disappointed that the minister is softening his earlier stance on such issues,” he said.
Minister Kasukuwere early this year banned local authorities from carrying out workshops in resort towns saying they were draining funds meant for service delivery.
Minister Kasukuwere would not immediately comment over the matter yesterday.