Friday, 17 January 2020

RUSAPE COUNCIL TO BORROW $6M FOR EXECUTIVE CARS


RUSAPE Town Council has passed a resolution to borrow a staggering $6 million to buy luxury cars for senior executives, triggering a backlash from furious residents.

The residents described the planned spending spree as unnecessary and extravagant since service delivery was at the lowest ebb in the town.

The residents said RTC was prioritising luxury vehicles at the expense of perennial problems like erratic water supply, burst sewer pipes, untrafficable roads and inadequate schools in the town.

A no-holds-barred full council meeting held in December had rejected the proposal to purchase the cars for $6 million through lease financing which attracts exorbitant interest.

RTC seeks to purchase a Toyota Fortuner for town secretary Mr Solomon Gabaza and double cabs for heads of department (HODs).

Two HODs have gone for more than two years without council vehicles.

The issue has divided council with Ward 6’s Cllr Blessmore Pambureni saying council should instead borrow to finance essential services such as upgrading water and sewer reticulation infrastructure, road equipment and machinery before feting executive officials. 

He said the latest move by RTC was against the directive issued by President Mnangagwa recently in Bulawayo, where he strongly warned local authorities against extravagant expenditures at the expense of service delivery.

“We have an unprecedented water crisis in Rusape and it is insensitive to the plight of residents to borrow to finance luxury. The President warned us against spending a fortune on luxurious cars, but on service delivery. We can only buy cars when service delivery and the economy have improved,” said Cllr Pambureni.

Works and planning committee chairman Cllr Ndabanenge Mataga (Ward 7) said council was seeking to appease a few individuals at the expense of the suffering masses.

“The current economic situation in the country is unfavourable for that. Yes, it’s specified in their contracts, but we cannot afford it at the moment. A husband cannot demand conjugal rights from a wife admitted in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU),” charged Cllr Mataga.

Vice chairman and Ward 10 Cllr Peter Kwesha said council could not buy luxuryedcars when revenue collection and service delivery had gone down.

“Council’s collection efficiency has drastically gone done. Let us listen to the concerns of the residents first. We should not burden the residents, but look at other options like cheaper vehicles or offsetting the cars with stands,” said Cllr Kwesha. 

Ward 1 Cllr Patrick Chipere said council risks being sued for failing to honour its part of the bargain.

“There is danger of being sued. We also took the decision to protect the council fleet. If we don’t buy them these vehicles now they will use pool cars, and at the end of five years we will be forced to buy them brand new personal vehicles in fulfilment of their contracts,” said Cllr Chipere.

Council chairman Lyton Sithole last week hastily convened a special full council meeting in less than the prescribed 24 hours’ notice to railroad the resolution.

After facing resistance from some councillors, Cllr Sithole put the matter to vote and five voted for the purchase of the cars.

Residents said such borrowings should have their blessing since their rates will be used to service the debt.

They want the council to satisfactorily account for the revenue collected from them so far, before deciding to borrow from anywhere, and to reveal how the debt will be serviced and whether this will result in an increase in the rates paid by residents.

They have threatened to petition the Minister of Local Government expressing their objection to the idea of borrowing to finance luxury. Manica Post

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