THE Masvingo City Council vehicles attached in 2013 and earlier this year over a $3,5 million debt owed to workers in salary arrears are gathering dust at the Deputy Sheriff’s Office while the municipality uses $40 000 a month hiring cars from the Central Mechanical Equipment Department.
The vehicles that were seized after council workers won a labour dispute ordering the employer to pay them outstanding salaries include the mayoral Mercedes-Benz, five directors’ cars, a kombi, a Pajero, a Mazda Eagle twin cab, several Nissan Hardbody cars and Mazda pick-up trucks, graders, front-end loaders, tippers, concrete mixers and UD tippers.
The Deputy Sheriff also seized several computers and office furniture.
Initially, fire tenders, refuse collection trucks and ambulances were also impounded leaving service delivery and normal council business in limbo, but they were later released on humanitarian grounds to avoid completely collapsing service delivery.
As the feuding parties wait for determination of the case at the High Court, the vehicles are literally rotting at the Deputy Sheriff’s office with no servicing meaning council would fork out more money to service the cars if they win the case.
Asked if his council was negotiating for an out of court payment plan with the workers to retrieve the cars, Masvingo mayor Hubert Fidze said he was yet to be briefed by town clerk Adolf Gusha.
“Concerning that issue and a way forward, I am yet to get a briefing from the town clerk,” he said.
Gusha could not be reached for comment.
The Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers’ Association said it was better for council to seek release of the cars while paying the workers in batches instead of resorting to hiring cars at such a huge cost per month.
“Our humble submission is that it is better for council to engage the workers in an out of court settlement and start paying them in batches to secure the release of the cars than resort to hiring cars which is expensive,” Murra programmes co-ordinator Anozivaishe Muguti said.