By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
04 July, 2014
Angry council workers in Chitungwiza, who have gone without their wages for over a year now, are reported to have held a peaceful protest at the Council headquarters, with the mayor, town clerk and other officials allegedly fleeing from their offices.
An estimated 100 workers descended on the Chitungwiza council headquarters on Friday demanding their salaries, which the council officials claim they do not have as the municipality is owed $27 million by residents.
According to Admire Zaya from the Chitungwiza Progressive Residents Association, the protestors were holding placards denouncing Mayor Philip Mutoti and town clerk George Makunde, and they vowed to keep protesting until they get their money. The Council admits owing workers $10 million in salary arrears.
Meanwhile management gets its salaries every month and have no problem paying for their large vehicles and fuel to run them.
Zaya said management has offered to extend loans of up to $100 for each employee to help them pay school fees and other basic needs. But this is far from enough and they are owed much more than $100. Zaya also explained that the workers do not know why the mayor and town clerk fled from their offices, as they were not threatened by the protesters. He added that they were probably too embarrassed to face the workers and explain what is happening with the funds.
The workers have been in negotiations with management and had reached a deadlock earlier this week, with some of the workers walking out on Wednesday after resolving to go on an indefinite strike.
The situation in Chitungwiza has been tense as of late, with council officials claiming that some of the workers have become so “militant” that their violent behaviour has forced many officials to work from home. The police have been called in to intervene on several occasions
Rubbish bins across St Mary’s have not been emptied this week and other services are also not being provided to the tax payers, including water and public lighting in many areas.