RESIDENTS have blasted Bulawayo City Council over its decision to splash nearly $600 000 on top-of-the-range vehicles for its executives, at a time the local authority was saddled with huge debts including outstanding salaries.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
Reports at the weekend suggested that council had set aside $599 000 to buy luxury vehicles for its top executives, mainly directors, hardly a month after nearly $120 000 was splashed on a Mercedes Benz GLE 250 class for mayor, Martin Moyo.
The development comes at a time the local authority owes over $155 million to several creditors and service providers, including over $8,5 million in outstanding allowances and salaries to its employees.
Bulawayo’s Progressive Residents’ Association co-ordinator, Rodrick Fayayo, yesterday said they would soon mobilise residents to protest the decision and demand the money be channelled towards service delivery.
“We don’t understand the rationale behind this latest move. We don’t know why they are splashing hundreds of thousands of dollars on vehicles when we have a service delivery gap in Bulawayo.
“Particularly shocking is that council executives had their vehicle loan balances reduced or cut off altogether after the officials used their outstanding leave days to pay off the balances,” Fayayo told Southern Eye.
Bulawayo’s mayor last month defended council’s decision to buy him a luxury vehicle, saying “we clearly are tired of these negative comments … It is a Bulawayo City Council car. It is unfortunate that in our society we have very negative and retrogressive people.
How can the city prosper when some are worrying about such issues.”
As of February 2017, council owed statutory bodies such as the National Social Security Authority, Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund, Local Authorities Pension Fund, Zimbabwe Urban Councils’ Workers Union, about $43 million, TelOne, Zimbabwe National Water Authority and Zesa about $82 million.
The council also owes workers $8,4 million in outstanding salaries and allowances, while unpaid taxes have increased to $1,9 million. Financial institutions are owed $13 million including the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe debt.
The local authority’s medical aid scheme, funeral policies and Standard Development Levy are reportedly owed $4,7 million.