Bulawayo residents, Friday grilled the Minister of Energy and Power Development Fortune Chasi over plans by the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) to demolish two of the city’s iconic cooling towers without consulting them.
In a tense stakeholders meeting held at ZPC offices, Minister Chasi acknowledged the breach of protocol by power utility without making proper consultations with both the local authority and residents.
Min Chasi endlessly apologised to the city fathers and resident Minister Judith Ncube over the ZPC conduct.
He promised to mend the bridges with all stakeholders and have all necessary consultations in place before going ahead with the demolition of the towers.
A delegation from the city council, led by the city Mayor Solomon Mguni walked out of the meeting citing that they had been disrespected.
“I would like to extend my sincere apologies to the local authority and to Minister of State for Bulawayo. What ZPC did was totally out of line. They should have consulted the local authority before making such a decision,” said Min Chasi.
“I want to assure you that I will continue to engage the Mayor on this issue so we can map a way forward in a transparent manner. It is quite unfortunate that the delegation from the city council walked out before the meeting could finish. However, I am going to write a letter to him apologising for what happened,” said Min Chasi.
He went on to ask ZPC to apologise to all stakeholders present for their “unbecoming” conduct.
Residents chided ZPC for their unprocedural conduct citing it would raise concerns over the authenticity of the process they wish to implement.
Bulawayo United Residents Association (BURA) chairperson Winos Dube said there is a need to start over the whole process.
“Thank you for apologising and acknowledging your shortcomings. May this project not be one of the many empty promises similar to those you have made in the past.
“Everyone was skeptical about this issue because you were not open about it. But now that you have explained the way you did we can see its a worthy cause. May you mend bridges with the council and keep us in the know going forward on the progress being made,” said Dube.
Women of Zimbabwe Alliance (WOZA) leader Jenny Williams demanded that there be a clear policy on the recruitment of labour to work on the project.
She said local residents must be given first preference when the process starts running.
Another resident fumed saying they have little faith in ZPC especially considering they have not been doing their things above board.
“There is no guarantee Bulawayo people will benefit from this. For starters the engineer heading this process can’t even speak Ndebele,” said the resident.