NEARLY 100 uMhlabuyalingana municipality workers have been left high and dry after they were not paid their October salaries.

NEARLY 100 uMhlabuyalingana municipality workers have been left high and dry after they were not paid their October salaries.

The 99 affected employees are, among others, solid waste cleaners, librarians, councillors and managers.

C ouncillor Solo Mkhombo, who is still waiting for his salary, alleges that the municipality is "broke".

The councillors and workers are incensed that despite the financial woes of the council, mayor Alison Ncube and municipal manager Eric Manqele are jetting off to Switzerland today.

The two will be attending the Swiss International Holiday Exhibition from Thursday to Saturday.

"The management lied to the councillors, citing some glitches with the bank. But it soon transpired that there are no more funds left in the municipal coffers to pay," Mkhombo said .

He accused Manqele of running the municipality like his "own spaza shop".

Mkhombo said the trip to Switzerland was not approved by the full council and was taking place against the advice of the head of the department of local government and traditional affairs, Gabi Gumbi-Masilela.

Mkhombo said when they enquired during the exco meeting, held on September 17, to be shown a written invitation from the Swiss authorities it was not provided.

"All the councillors did not approve the trip under the existing financial constraints and as it was not clear who was going to bear the costs and in what way the trip was going to advance the interest of the municipality," he said.

But Manqele denied that the trip was not approved.

He said a resolution was taken during a meeting that such a trip should be undertaken as it would benefit the uMhlabuyalingana municipality and its people.

"The trip to Switzerland would be paid for by the Swiss authorities and not the municipality," he said.

Manqele said they had a relationship with Swiss people and there were businessmen who wanted to invest in uMhlabuyalingana by constructing a hotel there.

"UMhlabuyalingana will only grow when we go out of our boundaries and attract investors," he said.

On the nonpayment of workers he said he was saddened by the circumstances leading to the situation.

"I am hurt by the fact that people have not been paid, but I promise that they will get their salaries today," he said.

"I had a problem with my laptop in authorising payments as we were in Cape Town meeting with the president, but I want to stress that I will do everything I can to pay them."

Manqele said he had contacted some councillors and apologised for the delay.