Local Government

Gweru pampers senior management with luxurious vehicles, while cutting employees’ salaries

By Lewis Kuchineyi
Gweru – Gweru City Council (GCC) has purchased top of the range vehicles for top management at a time the local authority is struggling to provide services to its residents.
The move comes at a time Gweru recently effected a salary cut for its employees.
Investigations by this publication reveals that the local authority recently procured a fleet of luxury and service vehicles from a number of local car dealers.
Among the procured vehicles are more than 15 Nissan single cab vehicles, three unspecified double cab vehicles, one Ford Everest and four tractors.
“There are many cars that are scheduled for the handover, there are tractors, there are Ford Everests, there are also double cabs, there are single cabs; there are many vehicles,” a source close to the developments told this publication.
The source also revealed that the dealers that have been tendered to supply vehicles to Gweru City council were Gweru Toyota, Duly’s Gweru and Croco Motors altogether supplying approximately 25 vehicles to the local authority.
It was also revealed that the tender for the high value vehicles is still being kept a secret because the deals were concluded before the procurement process had been finalized.
The source said that delivery of tendered vehicles is being delayed by some top council officials still to choose their choice of vehicles because they would become personal after five years.
The purchase of luxury vehicles by Gweru City Council has drawn bitter emotions from the residents, residents’ association and the employees alike.
Another source privy to the some of the finer details of the deal said that one the cars awaiting delivery and unveiling by council was already being showcased inside Duly’s Gweru showroom, an orange Ford Everest.
Residents have condemned the profligacy displayed by the local authority.
Cornilia Seliphiwe, the Executive Director for the Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association (GRRA) bemoaned the state of service delivery in the city and the welfare of the workers which has been sacrificed at the expense of the conditions of service for senior management.
“Why would councillors allow management to buy such expensive vehicles in the absence of service delivery? What are we thanking them for when refuse is not being collected, even in Woodlands, go to Mkoba, everywhere there are illegal dumpsites?” he asked.
Seliphiwe said that, if anything, the current crop of directors and senior management only deserved to be dismissed from work because they were failing to deliver service to the residents.
He said that cars should be bought as a form of retention allowance to entice performing individuals not to leave an organization which wasn’t however the case with the intended luxury car beneficiaries.
The Executive Director said the conditions of service come when the residents are complaining of poor service delivery, and its employees were working without protective clothing and using worn out slashes that only cost USD3 to replace and also when they are failing to fix the leaking roof in the Acting Finance Director’s office.
Seliphiwe also said that the money used to purchase the luxury should however have been used to resuscitate the local authority’s business units such as Go Beer Breweries, the civic centre theatre among other facilities that became dysfunctional due to mismanagement.
“How much money altogether has been used to buy these vehicles, if you look at the amount used to purchase these vehicles, is it not sufficient to resuscitate Go Beer breweries, or even start on renovating the water pipeline. We are not saying they should not get their vehicles, but we are saying they should get them after addressing critical issues, first things first. Shouldn’t we have resuscitated Go Beer with all the money that they used on vehicles? If you look at it closely you will see that they don’t care, how much do you need to resuscitate it to its original state so that once renovated, council can also start cashing in on it?” he added.
The residents’ representative blamed the collusion between the sitting councillors and the senior management for the current state of affairs in the city.
“It means there are resolutions to buy these vehicles, because they can’t purchase these vehicles without a council resolution. So it all goes down to the quality of councillors that we have, what do they prioritize?” said Seliphiwe.
The Zimbabwe Urban Council Workers Union Acting Chairperson, Brilliant Mnyamana said that the purchases were wrongly timed in that they were coming at a time when council employees had received a salary cut because of a cited lack of funds.
“While we appreciate that it is a condition of service for directors to have vehicles, we also think that the timing is wrong because you can’t be meeting a condition of service for directors and other senior employees forgetting the condition of service for low level employees,” said Mnyamana.
He said that because service delivery could not be separated from the workers whose morale is low, service delivery is going to be affected as well because the council had made the decision without considering the interests of the workers.
“How do they (workers) deliver then a service when you cut their salaries and when you don’t pay them full salaries after you had cut it. As a union we believe that the timing was not strategic, the timing for cutting salaries and purchasing those vehicles because it has a direct impact on the morale of staff who are our members as a union. It’s an unfortunate decision that was taken without considering the interests of workers and the interests of the city that is our view as a union, as workers that the timing is quite unfortunate,” Mnyamana added.
Gweru City Council Public Relations Officer, Vimbai Chingwaramusee disputed all that the local authority had purchased both condition of service vehicles for it’s directors as well as service delivery vehicles.
She however said that they were intending to purchase service delivery vehicles such as yellow machines, tractors and open trucks.
“Those are rumours like you said nothing of that nature occurred. Our mandate is to provide services and that is purely what we are pushing for. We however intend to procure service vehicles which we have not done,” she said.
Chingwaramusee also said that their planned unveiling process was only postponed giving way for the commissioning of the city’s Disability Desk on the same day.
“We wanted to do unveiling of tractors which we ended up not doing coz we wanted to want to do the disability desk first. However, it also has to be known that it is part of their condition of service that Directors should be given vehicles, unfortunately as a local authority we have not met that condition of service yet. Even if it was bought for them as a condition of service I wouldn’t know. It’s like knowing someone’s salary so that I wouldn’t know,” she added.
The city’s spokesperson further highlighted that their procurement processes were compliant with the Procurement Regulation Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) and referred all further questions to the Acting Town Clerk.
GCC has in the past come under fire for spending USD 176 000 on a Toyota Prado for the former Gweru Town Clerk, Elizabeth Gwatipedza at a time residents were complaining of poor service delivery.

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