Mutare City Council workers say they have not been paid for almost 15 months, a situation that has resulted in high poverty levels in the Manicaland provincial capital.
Some of the workers say the local authority was expected to pay them yesterday but most of them did not receive the outstanding salaries by the end of the day.
One of the workers, Ozious Gore, who is a polygamist and has two wives and six children, says his children are no longer going to school due to lack of money.
Gore works for the council’s refuse collection department. He says life is hard as he last received his pay last year.
Another council employee, Eunice Rutere, says she is not destitute as she has also not received her salary to pay rent, buy food and other basic necessities.
Shame Gore, who is now being haunted by some debts, says the council should at least pay him five months’ salary in order to clear his debts now running into thousands of dollars.
Many council employees are in danger of being evicted from their lodgings for non-payment of rentals while school children are no longer going to school due to lack of money to pay for school fees.
The local authority is now planning to retrench 1,500 workers, claiming that it can no longer continue accumulating salary arrears that currently amount to millions of dollars.
The council says its revenue base has been seriously affected by the harsh economic environment currently prevailing in Zimbabwe.
Mutare mayor councilor Tatenda Nhamarare says his council is struggling to raise workers’ salaries and pay the outstanding wages, owing to the reduced revenue base.
He adds that the local authority is owed at least US$25 million by the residents, businesses and other government departments in unpaid water and reticulation charges.