Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) pensioners have demanded that the local authority awards them with a rates rebate as part of their exit packages.
The pensioners further want the local authority to provide them with cash or kind funeral support. In a letter to the council contained in a council confidential report, the pensioners revealed that they were struggling to make ends meet with their meagre pension payouts.
“Subsequent to the meeting we had in your offices, we humbly request council that on humanitarian grounds grant its pensioners rebate on rates and water, also consider reducing medical aid subscription and grant its pensioners funeral assistance in cash or kind. We are aware that council has a policy on rates rebated for ratepayers who are above 70 years. This does not favour those who live in the high-density suburbs. Most of the pensioners reside in the high density areas hence the request specifically for BCC pensioners,” reads part of the letter.
The pensioners further noted that the prevailing economic environment and unsustainable salaries for payouts which have never been reviewed have impacted negatively on their welfare.
“Medical aid subscriptions have escalated beyond the reach of many of us at a time and age we need it most,” reads part of the letter.
In considering the request, the local authority endorsed that the rates rebate will only be applied for former council workers who are above 65 years.
“It was recommended that retired BCC pensioners who happen to own self occupied residential properties be eligible and entitled to council’s rebate policy on payment of rates to senior citizens upon attainment of 65 years mandatory retirement age subject to production of a life certificate annually on the understanding that the benefit shall lapse upon death. That upon death retired BCC pensioners be offered graves for free at one of the council administered cemeteries provided the burial was confined to Bulawayo Metropolitan Province,” reads the report.
A few years back the Government ordered local authorities to stop paying exit packages to executives and other employees leaving council service following outrageous severance demands and golden handshakes given to departing council executives.
Golden handshakes are contractual clauses mostly used to attract high quality top executives who may be reluctant to move from other companies. The package mostly includes cash, equity and locally it may also involve vehicles used by the executives. The local authority was also involved in another sad situation where individuals who were approaching retirement would allegedly hoard leave days so as to cash in on them by using them as repayment for extravagant vehicle loans when they eventually retire.