By NQOBANI NDLOVU
BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) clinics are being manned by 50% of the staff amid reports that the other half had left for greener pastures.
This came at a time when the local authority was battling service delivery challenges and failure to pay its workers on time.
City fathers have blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for financially impacting on its operations as ratepayers did not settle their bills for the better part of 2020 due to the lockdown.
In a virtual discussion held on Monday titled: “The State of Health Institutions in Bulawayo: A Provincial Perspective,” BCC health services director Edwin Sibanda painted a gloomy picture of staffing levels.
“We have about 19 clinics dotted around the City of Bulawayo and they are running with almost forty-five to fifty-five staffing levels,” Sibanda said.
“The city has been struggling with constant tendering in of resignation letters. Since January we have been receiving not less than four resignations a month. In terms of admission levels we are fine, but the greatest constraint is the fact that our clinics do not have enough staff.”
Welcome Mlilo, the acting provincial medical director for Bulawayo said: “The shortage of health facilities is a trend right across the country, not only limited to Bulawayo. We have seen an alarming number of resignations.”
According to the local authority, only 16% of Bulawayo ratepayers fully paid their bills in 2020 while 22% did not make any payments at all, resulting in council being owed nearly $663 million by ratepayers.
Government departments also owe council several millions of dollars, deepening the council’s financial woes.
Council’s woes are likely to be worsened by the recently increased tariffs, a development that is likely to result in a high number of defaulters.
BCC increased its rates by 372% after its supplementary budget was recently approved by government.
The local authority was forced to seek a supplementary budget after the first wave of COVID-19 led to unbudgeted expenses.
As if that is not enough, government has also approved the council’s 2021 budget which will see rates and service charges going up by a further 10%.