Innocent Ruwende Municipal Reporter—

urban and rural council workers, most of whom have gone for several months without receiving their salaries, have appealed to Government to provide them with a feeding scheme and weed out corrupt officials.The workers, through the Zimbabwe Urban and Rural Council Workers Union, recently wrote to Secretary for Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Engineer George Mlilo after “futile attempts to meet Minister Saviour Kasukuwere” asking for State intervention.

There are 72 rural and urban councils in Zimbabwe employing tens of thousands of workers.

Eng Mlilo in his response, however, said a feeding scheme was not implementable, but his ministry would monitor operations of local authorities with a view to rationalise salaries of senior management so as to release money into operations.

In the letter, ZURCWU secretary-general, Mr Bernard Dhanda said his union was of the opinion that the poverty alleviation approach through provision of a feeding scheme, would go a long way as a majority of council workers were visibly sick.

“Generally, most councils in Zimbabwe are in four to five months’ salary backlog except for Chitungwiza and Mutare which are worse off. They must not waste money paying lawyers, they must pay their workers as and when money is available.

“With the above salary backlogs, we are proposing that the State should intervene as our people are wallowing in abject poverty.

“Only a feeding scheme is necessary now. It is prudent that any sane leader would not just watch, but act whenever the situation exposes a certain section of the society to their level of suffering and desperation, while employed by local authority. It will be a mystery if the State cannot intervene at this juncture,” reads the letter.

Mr Dhanda urged Government to stop protecting officials who were implicated in audit reports and to remove politicisation on administrative issues to promote accountability and wise guidance for councillors to have power to deal with errant town clerks and monitor expenditure.

He appealed for the accessibility on the part of ministry officials saying selective engagement was not good for the nation.

“We must see the minister (Kasukuwere) when we need him. Our situation needs a lot of action not inaction as the level of poverty within the workforce in the local Government sector is too high and explosive, thus State officials must be accessible so that we put our heads together,” reads the letter.

Eng Mlilo also said: “Nonetheless, the ministry is committed to improving the welfare of council employees and their families. To that end, the ministry is closely monitoring the operations of local authorities on the need to ensure that they rationalise salaries for senior management at the same time reviewing salaries for lower level staff so that they are above poverty the datum line.

“In addition, urban local authorities are being implored to prioritise payment of employees. It is envisaged that this arrangement will safeguard both the employees and their families as opposed to a feeding scheme that may end up cushioning the workers at the detriment of their families,” he said.

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