Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter
BARELY a week after a Bulawayo City Council employee escaped with a written warning for misappropriating more than 2 000 litres of diesel, it has since emerged that the local authority recently reinstated two workers who had stolen a council JoJo tank.
Last week it was revealed a civil engineering technician, Mr Dalithemba Sibanda, got away with a written warning after misappropriating 2 300 litres of diesel which was meant for key council projects inclusive of road rehabilitation.
In the latest developments, it has since emerged the local authority’s General Purposes Standing Committee decided to reinstate two council employees who had been fired for stealing, arguing that they were first time offenders hence should just be given a written warning.
Council sources revealed that the two employees used a council vehicle to go and steal the JoJo tank at Khwezi Training Centre in Pelandaba. After their crime had been discovered and the two were subjected to internal disciplinary proceedings and fired.
However, when the report was presented to the committee the decision was overturned and the two reinstated with councillors saying the punishment was too harsh considering that the two were first time offenders.
The General Purposes Committee is made up of chairpersons of the five standing committees together with the mayor and deputy mayor.
“This item came to council in December last year, where two council employees stole the JoJo tank from Khwezi training centre. General Purposes Committee members however, voted to reverse the disciplinary action as they felt that dismissal was too steep considering they were first-time offenders. Ironically, a week after the reversal of this decision, two other employees also stole another JoJo tank, this report has however, not yet been received by council,” said the source.
Contacted for comment, the city’s acting mayor, Councillor Mlandu Ncube declined to comment saying the council code of conduct did not allow him to talk on employee matters.
“That matter involves council employees and the code of conduct does not allow us to talk on such internal matters,” said Clr Ncube.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) however blasted the local authority’s decision saying it set a wrong precedent. BPRA co-ordinator Mr Emmanuel Ndlovu said while the internal processes had been done it was disappointing that councillors decided to reinstate people who had already proven their unreliability.
“While we appreciate the efforts by BCC to investigate the JoJo tank theft case and bring the culprits to book, we are however, disappointed by the decision taken by the General Purposes Committee to reinstate individuals whose public images have been severely dented by this scandal.
“The adverse result of this action is that it upholds a widespread and general belief that the BCC is a corrupt organisation that is home to corrupt cartels. The decision by the committee is promoting an unacceptable value system where BCC becomes the haven of people accused of looting, theft and corruption,” said Mr Ndlovu.