By James Muonwa l Mashonaland West Correspondent
DAGGERS have been drawn at the predominantly Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) Chinhoyi Municipality, where a clique of “bribed” councillors is reportedly pushing to wilfully disregard standing policy over retirement.
According to sources, council retirement policy dictates that a retiree vacates office or leaves employment on occasion of their 65th birthday.
Among other employees set for exit is incumbent chamber secretary, Abel Gotora, who has for the past seven months been off duty due to ill-health. He only started reporting for work last month, but is expected to retire on March 10, 2023 when he celebrates his birthday.
If policy is to be followed Gotora’s last working day at the municipality would effectively be this Friday.
However, sources confided in NewZimbabwe.com that there were councillors who were curiously exhibiting a soft spot for the long-serving Russian-trained lawyer, and wanted him to hang in there until year-end.
As has been unorthodox tradition and wilful violation of policy at the controversy-ridden local authority, anyone whose retirement date fell during the course of the year only left employment on December 31 of that particular calendar year.
Gotora’s issue was set for tabling at a special council meeting Tuesday, March 7, where a determination was to be made whether or not to allow him to perform duties for a further nine months.
Sources said after sensing the volatility of the matter, fuelled by suspicion that money had exchanged hands, town clerk Maxwell Kaitano conveniently struck it off the agenda.
Contacted for comment on the development, Kaitano promised to call this journalist but never did.
Speaking to this publication on condition of anonymity, councillors claimed there were “only three or four councillors” of the 15-member council chamber who were agitating for Gotora’s stay after suspectedly having received some tokens to influence the aborted meeting’s outcome.
“Surely, for one reason or the other there is strong resistance by some councillors who don’t want Gotora to leave this month yet the retirement policy is very clear. We suspect money has exchanged hands that is why some of them want to knowingly deviate from policy,” said one Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) councillor.
Pointedly, the only two Zanu PF councillors, lgnatius Zvigadza (Ward 4) and Voster Mashevedzanwa of Ward 11 abstained from the potentially explosive special council meeting Tuesday.
Asked for comment, council public relations officer, Tichaona Mlauzi said he was not at liberty to discuss human resources issues with the media.
CCC Mayor Garikai Dendera said council policy on retirement was explicit and no amount of bribery of councillors could influence a shift.
“Our retirement policy is clear that one retires upon reaching 65 years of age. The issue was on the agenda at the Tuesday meeting but unfortunately town clerk removed it without giving reasons,” Dendera told NewZimbabwe.com Wednesday.
He, however, acknowledged council had over the years deliberately allowed employees due for retirement by virtue of having clocked 65 years of age to stay until December.
The retirement policy has come under the radar following an external audit report which picked the anomaly and recommended that employees retire on their birthdays in order to stem financial loss to council.