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Bikita RDC councilors taste own medicine

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Bikita RDC councilors taste own medicine

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BRILLIANT MUKARO 

MIRROR REPORTER

BIKITA – Bikita Rural District councillors who recently approved an extravagant car scheme for top managers of US$380 000 are tasting their own medicine as they have gone for several months without getting their allowances because the local authority is in the red.

Bikita has 32 Councillors.

Sources told The Mirror that the Rural District Council (RDC) is failing to pay the meagre ZWL$128 000 allowance each because resources are going towards the servicing of the car loan. Government recently increased councillors’ allowances from ZWL$15 000 to ZWL$128 000.

The car loan is also said to have forced the local authority to retrench 25 hapless workers in December last year and service delivery is almost at a standstill,” said the sources.

One councillor who requested anonymity told The Mirror that the allowances have not been paid for the last seven months.

Bikita RDC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Peter Chibhi confirmed the backlog but however, said the outstanding allowances are just for one month. He attributed the delay in the payments to a Government directive issued in June last year to increase the allowances that were not in the budget.

He said that the delay will be cleared within a few months. Bikita RDC annual budget for 2023 stands at ZWL$4.2 billion.

“We have a minor backlog with councillors allowances because the Ministry of Local Government increased the minimum allowances towards mid-year and the money was not budgeted for,” said Chibhi.

Contrary to Chibhi’s statement, council chairman Benjamin Masakadze, however, told The Mirror in a separate interview that the allowances have not been paid for three months.

Disgruntled councillors said the situation at the RDC is so dire that many projects have been stopped. One of the contentious issues is single public toilet at Nyika Growth Point which has become a health hazard as it is always blocked. Residents have been calling on council to build another public toilet.

Bikita Residents and Ratepayers Association (BRRA) chairperson Berlina Sithole had no tears for the councillors. She said they were tasting their medicine since they are the ones who approved the management car scheme. She condemned the councilors for approving a car scheme facility that resulted in the retrenchment of workers.

She also attacked the councillors for outsourcing essential services to a private company after the retrenchment of workers.

“Service was bad in Bikita, but now it is a crisis because the bulk of the local authority’s revenue is servicing the car loan. I have no sympathy for the councillors over delayed allowances; they are tasting their own medicine.

“They were quite when 25 workers were retrenched and the council CEO took council business through his company so they are tasting their own medicine,” said Sithole.

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