Friday, 5 June 2020

GOLDEN HANDSHAKE FOR MUTARE CHAMBER SECRETARY


OUTGOING Mutare chamber secretary, Mr Cephas Vuta who resigned last week following his recent suspension, received a golden handshake which includes about US$50 000 for a vehicle, four residential and commercial stands, as well as a holiday allowance to be paid up to August.

Mr Vuta, who was suspended last month as he was facing a litany of charges, including making major decisions without consulting the Town Clerk or Mayor, opted to resign from the local authority.

He has since signed a Memorandum of Agreement of Mutual Termination of Employment with his former employer, dated May 29, 2020.

The memorandum lists 14 things that Mr Vuta is entitled to get, which will see the local authority parting with thousands of dollars.

However, when approached for a comment on Wednesday, Mr Vuta insisted that he was still a council employee until he receives his entitlements as per his mutual agreement with the local authority.

He said what he will receive is not a golden handshake, but benefits that come with the position of being a chamber secretary. 

“I do not want to say much but what I can tell you is that I am still a council employee till I get those things,” he said.

But Mutare Mayor, Councillor Blessing Tandi, confirmed Mr Vuta’s departure from council and highlighted that it is through mutual consent.

However, the Mayor inisisted that the chamber secretary did not receive a golden handshake.

Addressing a Press conference at Civic Centre yesterday (Thursday), Councillor Tandi said, “Disciplinary proceedings against Mr Vuta had commenced and after almost three days of the hearing proceedings, we managed to find each other and we had to have a mutual termination of his employment contract.

“Council is obliged to meet certain obligations that are underlined in the termination of his employment. ‘‘This was the best decision made considering the charges he was facing. 

“For more than three years, council could not fulfil part of the conditions of service and entitlements for all senior managers, including Mr Vuta, and now the local authority is being forced to pay those, among them a vehicle and other benefits.”

In the agreement, which this paper has in possession, Mr Vuta will get US$48 951, 95 being a pro-rata equivalence for a US$71 637 vehicle, which the Mutare City Council was supposed to purchase for him.

Both parties are expected to agree on the modalities of payment within 14 days, failure of which the matter shall be referred to a mutually agreed arbitrator.

Mr Vuta is also entitled to purchase one residential stand in a low-density area, one residential stand in a high-density, one commercial stand as well as one industrial stand at 40 percent of the market place.

These stands must be offered to Mr Vuta within 60 days of the agreement.

Besides being paid his severance package totalling three months’ salary, Mr Vuta is also entitled to all other benefits, among them pro-rata bonus in terms of the contract of employment, WiFi, swimming pool maintenance, medical aid subscriptions, school fees and university tuition fees, holiday allowance as well as club subscriptions for the next three months.

In his suspension letter dated May 13, Mr Vuta was suspended without pay and other benefits and was charged with 16 cases of misconduct.

Among the charges was the fact that he allegedly made major decisions without consulting the Town Clerk or Mayor and also made defamatory remarks against the Town Clerk. 

“It is alleged you facilitated the signature of a lease agreement and or Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Sports and City Council without the knowledge of and in the absence of consultation with the Town Clerk or the Mayor in breach of standing orders.

“The practice and the law dictates that the Town Clerk must approve and sign all the documentation, your conduct and omission had serious prejudice to council,” reads the letter.

“It is alleged that sometime in June 2018, you made defamatory, false and disparaging remarks about the Town Clerk in your discussion with his assistant executive assistant. In particular, it is alleged that the Town Clerk was incapable of fostering sound working relations with colleagues and that he had strained relations at his previous workplaces.” Manica Post

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