TWO of Chegutu’s biggest employers, David Whitehead and Bonnezim, have withdrawn material and technical assistance to the town’s council in protest at the assault on workers at the municipality b
y suspected Zanu PF supporters.
Documents in the possession of the Zimbabwe Independent show that the companies, which are involved in textile and agricultural activities, withdrew their services after Chegutu Town Council workers were assaulted by ruling party militants for allegedly belonging to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. The firms were also accused of backing the MDC council.
According to a report dated June 29, compiled by the acting town clerk Marufu Chigwenzi Zinyowera and sent to Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, the two companies, which have been helping council with servicing of roads and provision of water reticulation, withdrew their support after their workers were also threatened and assaulted.
“While there are large numbers of workers brought onto the municipality’s payroll, they have no tools and equipment to use in their basic manual work,” the report states. “David Whitehead and Bonnezim, two of the biggest employers in Chegutu, had tried to help but had had no choice but to withdraw their support to council because their workers were being threatened and some of them actually assaulted,” it says.
“Chegutu council requires urgent recapitalisation. It has no money and no tools and essential equipment for service delivery which have all been vandalised or stolen by known culprits with impunity.”
In an interview on Wednesday, Chegutu executive mayor Francis Dhlakama said he had not seen the report as the acting town clerk was directed to report directly to Chombo. But he confirmed support from the corporate sector had dwindled after threats “against assisting an MDC council”.
“The confusion obtaining in Chegutu has led to withdrawal or dwindling of the much needed material and technical support from the corporate sector without which the cash-strapped council will not pull through unless Chombo provides grants,” said Dhlakama, who was arrested and incarcerated last month in connection with police investigations into corruption at the council.
-Meanwhile, the Chegutu council has been thrown into further confusion after revelations that members of the task force appointed by Chombo last month do not reside in Chegutu. The members have raised a large bill in transport and subsistence allowances which residents have to pay.