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Be wary of commissions, Byo residents warned

Former Bulawayo councillors and residents’ associations from Gweru and Harare have warned Bulawayo residents calling for the expulsion of councillors and pushing for the appointment of a commission to run the affairs of the city, saying the move might have dire consequences for the city.  

The sentiments were triggered following a fall out between Bulawayo Town Clerk Christopher Dube and a section of councillors led by Deputy Mayor Tinashe Kambarami, who unsuccessfully tried to suspend the former on allegations of corruption.

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) invited representatives from Harare and Gweru to share their experiences working with commissions.

Combined Harare Residents Association programs officer Rueben Akili described a commission as the worst authority that can be engaged to run the affairs of a city.

“A commission is appointed where there is disharmony between residents and local council just as is the case in Bulawayo right now,” said Akili.

“The problem is it is supposed to stay only for six months but it can surpass that if it so wishes. In Harare, we spent three years under commission and it took us seven court cases to boot them out.”

Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association chairperson Cornelius Selipiwe said commissions have a penchant of spending money on unnecessary items.

“Immediately after appointment (In Gweru) the commission took money and bought laptops. They then went to Holiday Inn in Bulawayo where they were booked for several days being trained on how to use computers. This was almost $30 000 spent. That money could have bought at least two refuse collection trucks for the people to benefit from, ” he said.

“These commissions are not answerable to the residents. They don’t reside in our communities hence they can never understand our plight.”

Former councillor Bancane Ndiweni castigated the residents calling for the axing of the councillors saying they were the ones who voted in the councillors.

“You embraced MDC now it is giving you problems. Deal with it. You voted for young people now they are misbehaving. Whom are you crying for? Right now the likes of Gift Banda own numerous stands but you are not challenging them,” said Ndiweni.

He said submitting a list of names of people recommended to be part of the commission would not work as the appointing powers lies with the local government minister.

“There is Moffat Ndlovu on the list you suggested. Zanu PF does not want to see him. Do you think he will make it into the commission? What you need to appreciate is that this commission will always be run by July Moyo and he is a ZANU-PF affiliate. A commission will not solve your problems,” Ndiweni said.

Another resident, who identified himself as Mr Gasela, warned residents to avoid making rash decisions which will haunt them in future.

” We have understood what the commission has done to Harare and Gweru but here in Bulawayo we still have a wound that needs to be bandaged. As residents we need to be realistic about the problems in our city,” said Gasela.

Another resident said MDC councillors should be sent packing as they have failed in executing their duties.

“We no longer have power to choose whether we have a commission or not because the councillors have created chaos. If the commission does well why should it be removed. We have a right to be governed the way we want to,” said the resident.

Priscilla Tshabalala, a well-known activist in the city, advocated for the setting up of a commission saying there is no more confidence in the current council.

“We will make sure the government does not impose decisions that will affect the welfare of the city,” she said.

Anglistone Sibanda, who is also an activist said the city needs to have an interim authority to run its affairs while political parties fix their in-house issues.

BPRA chairperson Ambrose Sibindi said their association is neither for nor against the idea of a commission but merely facilitated the meeting to allow residents to make informed decisions on the way forward for the city of Bulawayo.

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