NORTON mayor Sylvester Gumisirai lost his official robes after burglars sneaked into his room at a dingy lodge in Bulawayo where he is attending the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) Wednesday, NewZimbabwe.com can exclusively reveal.
Mayors from across the country, currently attending a mayoral summit at the ZITF were forced to seek accommodation in grimy and rundown facilities because of their measly travel and substance allowances following a US$30 per day cap imposed by Local Government minister July Moyo
The US$30 allowance cap for all mayors is way below the average US$100 being charged for a night’s sleep in Bulawayo.
Accommodation costs soared because of the ZITF as often happens whenever the fair is held.
One Mayor who spoke to NewZimbabwe.com said some of his colleagues were now “squatters,” a colloquial term referring to someone who living in someone’s home or room without contributing anything towards the rates.
“The travel and subsistence allowance was set by the Minister of Local Government and it is just peanuts,” mayor, who declined to be named, said.
“A US$30 cap on that allowance at interbank rate is just over $2 500, now tell me where we can get accommodation with that kind of money during the ZITF at a time accommodation is way above US$100. Some are now forking out their own money to pay for council business and with a monthly allowance of $16 000 it is a sacrifice that should be noted, those who do not have personal funds are suffering. The situation is so bad Gumisirai’s mayoral gown was stolen from one of the rooms,” the mayor said.
Efforts to get comments from Gumisirai were fruitless as his mobile phone was inaccessible, but Mutare mayor Blessing Tandi, who is in charge of mayor’s welfare in the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (Ucaz), confirmed their stay in Bulawayo has been very uncomfortable.
“Yes, it’s true there is a circular that allows councillors payment of about US$45 for accommodation paid at bank rate. Accommodation costs have risen because of the busy ZITF to almost US$60 for a dormitory setup and US$120 or more for standard rooms and US$200 or more for executive rooms. Some local authorities operate with their own travel and subsistence policies and it’s better. The way forward is at the present moment is to work within our budgets but such circulars should accommodate budgets and capacity of local authorities in the future,” he said.
Ucaz chairperson Josiah Makombe was not picking calls to answer questions on the issue