|Council officials hoard leave days|
|Saturday, 09 June 2012 22:48|
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Sunday News ReporterSENIOR Bulawayo City Council officials are banking leave days so as to cash in on them by using them as repayment for extravagant vehicle loans when they retire, Sunday News can exclusively reveal.
The cash-strapped council will also allow serving members and retirees a special dispensation to use vacation leave days to purchase residential stands.
According to confidential council minutes, the deputy director of engineering services (town planning), Mr Job Jika Ndebele, and assistant director of health services (environmental health), Mr George Fredrick Enslin, will soon be retiring from council and their leave days will be encumbered as payment for loans they are still servicing.
Mr Enslin, who is in grade 13, will retire on 30 November and 217 of his leave days will be encumbered. Mr Ndebele is in grade 14 and has 193 leave days that will be encumbered when he retires on 31 October next year.
“The matter was considered and the Town Clerk explained that the proposed action was an attempt to safeguard council’s interests. The staff loans granted to the two staff members concerned are repayable over a period of seven years yet they are due for retirement in less than two years.
“Encumbering their leave days would ensure that sufficient funds or equivalent were available to offset their loans and that council was not disadvantaged.
“Councillors were however concerned about the accumulation of leave days to untenable levels as this would translate to huge sums of money at retirement, and this would place a burden on council,’’ read the minutes.
Council approves loan facilities for permanent staff to cover education loans, funeral assistance, medical bills and accommodation needs. However, the controversial car loan scheme which saw council spend almost US$2 million on top-of-the-range vehicles for senior officials, some of whom got over US$100 000, was a special arrangement.
The money for the vehicles was part of a loan council secured from a local bank, mortgaging the City Hall and Tower Block which they could lose after failing to service the loan.
“Since the scheme covered consumer loans, repayable over a six-month period, it had been made conditional that beneficiaries use their accumulated vacation leave days as collateral security for the financial assistance to be availed. However, the policy had excluded the case of high value staff loans which were governed by separate specific staff assistance schemes,’’ the confidential minutes read.
No comment could be obtained from council as the public relations office demanded written questions that would only be attended to tomorrow when the mayor Clr Thaba Moyo and Town Clerk Mr Middleton Nyoni have returned from a trip to China where they attended an Annual City Development Conference in Chongqing.
However, a well-placed source in council said the fact that the leave days could pay off loans of between US$80 000 and US$100 000 proves that the senior officials are being paid astronomical salaries.