Local authorities barred from selling land

Marvelous Moyo Gwanda Correspondent
THE Government has issued a directive to stop local authorities from selling land and using the money to pay workers’ salaries. The directive came after a realisation that some local authorities were contravening a section of the Urban Council Act by selling land and thereafter diverting the funds to pay salaries.

The Urban Council Act is clear on that issue but because of financial challenges, some councils have been “abusing estates monies” expected to be used in the funding of mainly capital projects.

Gwanda Town Council was among the councils that fell afoul of the law.
Gwanda Town Mayor Councillor Knowledge Ndlovu yesterday told Chronicle that due to serious financial constraints and low revenue inflows, the local authority had been using money accrued from the sale of land to pay workers.

“The Government issued a directive to all local authorities that we should not channel estate funds to pay salaries. Had everything been normal in our council, we would have developed our town in a big way but that has been hindered by that every cent we got was taking care of salaries,” he said.

Clr Ndlovu was responding to concerns by some workers who queried why the local authority bought five vehicles recently after selling land to a developer.

The workers argued that instead of buying the vehicles, council should have settled salaries owed to workers.
“Government said we can only use the money we get after selling land on capital projects and as council we saw it best that since we did not have vehicles, we source some so that we improve on service delivery,” said Clr Ndlovu. He said to bring back normalcy to the local authority, the issue of high salaries had to be tackled for council to function with less challenges.

The wage bill is pegged at $250,000 per month against a minimum of $160,000 revenue collected monthly.
A benchmark was put in place that no worker should earn a salary of above $6,000.

The town clerk, Gilbert Mlilo, who retired recently, was earning about $18,000 per month.
Clr Ndlovu called on workers to set aside their differences and work together with council in finding a solution to financial challenges faced by the local authority.

Meanwhile, council is expected to table a new salary payment proposal today after workers rejected the initial one presented on Monday.
Workers have gone for five months without salaries while on the other hand council is burdened with an $8 million debt to service providers.
The management is also said to have last received their salaries five months ago.

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