THE Bulawayo City Council has been forced to pay its workers half salaries after revenue declined by 80 percent in the past two months.
Revenue inflows into council coffers have been erratic since the country went into lockdown on 30 March.
This has resulted in the local authority failing to pay full salaries to its employees, managing to only pay 50 percent of the salaries since March. According to a council report, in March the local authority managed to collect $15 million but after the declaration of the lockdown, revenue inflows tumbled to $3 million in April. May’s figures are still being collated.
“In March the city collected revenue amounting to $15 million, but currently (April) only $3 million dollars had been collected. An average collection of $1,6 million which was collected per day is now being collected weekly.
“The department has resorted to opening of all council district offices in the city (to boost revenue). Further, efforts are being made to encourage residents to use all the existing platforms for payments,” read part of the minutes.
According to the council report it was further revealed that the council together with other local authorities were in the process of engaging the Central Government to avail cushioning grants during the national lockdown.
“The Association of Local Authorities, Financial Directors and Town Treasurers was engaging Central Government through the Ministry of Finance and Development to provide financial grants aid to local authorities. The city requires $170 million currently. The revenue inflows had been affected by the lockdown. Council was also engaging the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to allow for Diaspora payments,” reads the council report.
According to a council confidential report, the local authority’s acting human capital director, Mr Makhosi Tshalebwa reported that the local authority had paid 50 percent salaries for March and April due to the dwindling financial resources. The local authority employs 3 335 workers.
“Council paid its workers 50 percent of the March salary before lockdown. Anticipation had been made to pay the remaining 50 percent on 9 April, however, because of poor revenue collection this had not been possible. The April salaries were also due. Efforts were being made to have safe working environments during the lockdown period. The major challenge was the prices of goods and commodities which have gone up for some of the safety materials . . . Considerations were also being made to slow down recruitment up until council had recovered financially,” reads the report.
In responding to this crisis, the local authority revealed it was engaging Government with Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube noting that some of the funds were being used in the city’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Council used some of its funds in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus. Residents are being encouraged to pay using various payment platforms at their homes,” reads the report. – Sunday News