Bulawayo residents have urged the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to prioritise locals when allocating residentials stands instead of favouring outsiders.
This came out during a combined meeting by the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) and Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) on land governance issues.
Speaking during the meeting, some residents claimed there was a lot of corruption in the allocation of residential stands with most outsiders benefitting at the expense of locals.
“These stands are usually allocated to people from outside Bulawayo and they end up making residents from the city to be tenants, this is all corruption as these stands are given to people with more money.
“Again, these owners don’t pay rentals, somebody gets about 5000 dollars but the house has debts in the local authority,” Dickson Munkuli, a resident.
He said first preference should be given to residents before people from other areas.
“I will give an example of Kelvin where certain individuals own about six stands but they do not stay in Bulawayo, if such an individual has six houses what about the locals.
“It does not make sense for Bulawayo residents to rent in houses whose owners stay in Gweru,” he said.
Another resident, Elizabeth Mabhena said advertisements of stands should be made public.
“The issue with our local authority is that they do not publicly advertise stands for people to be aware.
“There is need for information to be taken to people who are on the ground which is the community because at times we only see people being allocated stands without knowing the when they were advertised,” Mabhena said.
She said there are some people who are still on the waiting list.
“Some people are still on the waiting list to get those stands, some of the forms date back to 1990s but those with money get stands easily.”
The BCC housing waiting list now stands at over 115 000.
Meanwhile, BPRA Information Communications Officer, Kelebone Khabo said council should re-educate people on procedures for allocation of stands.
“The issue is that council should re-educate people on procedures for allocation of stands. Some people have waited for years on the waiting list, so there is another generation that does not know the necessary steps needed for one to get stands,” Khabo said.
He said councillors are the ones with first-hand information and should be educating residents.
“As council management they have first-hand information, thus where corruption starts because they have information on where stands are while people do not have an idea.
“Then when they address people they just cheat them using English jargon, but they are the ones with information.”
He added that land corruption is further propagated by the economy.
“Our economy in general makes people greedy and not follow certain procedures, thus how we also see issues of double allocation of stands.
Speaking at the same gathering, TIZ Advocacy Officer Njabulo Moyo said men and women are affected differently by land corruption.
“Land corruption affect men and women different for example in rural areas men own land but women are the ones working hard on it, just like in the city, men own the houses but women are the ones maintaining them,” Moyo said.
“As Zimbabweans we know that corruption is wrong but we do it.”
However, Ward 22 councillor Rodney Jele who is also chairperson for Town Lands and Planning committee, said the council has always had challenges in defining a Bulawayo resident.
“The argument has always been who is a Bulawayo resident because in the tender system when we say we want statements/proof of residents, we the residents are the ones who give people from outside Bulawayo those statements.
“When they bring that statement to the council, we cannot argue to say they do not stay here, as residents we are also becoming corrupt,” Cllr Jele said.
He said first priority in the allocation of housing stands is usually given to residents.
“But we have scenarios time and again when we advertise but Bulawayo residents do not apply, at the end of the day the process has to go through.
“At times we deprive ourselves as residents in terms of benefitting as Bulawayo community,” he said.
He added that a policy is needed to protect tenants.
“I think we really need to craft policies that protect tenants because at the end of the day that someone pays rentals money but the owner does not pay the council dues, they just come and collect all the money and when council closes water it affect tenants,” Cllr Jele said.
Councillor Jele urged residents to avoid giving other people house statements as it is the only proof they have when it comes to identifying individuals who are locals.