Audit councillors' lifestyles: Residents

BULAWAYO - Bulawayo residents have called for lifestyle audits of councillors in the city amid concerns that the officials are abusing their positions to accumulate wealth and properties.

The residents through their representative organisation, Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) even threatened to take legal action against the councillors, who they accuse of using their position to enrich themselves.

According to the association, this has been prompted by revelations that two councillors had been controversially-awarded town house stands in Bulawayo’s Parklands suburb.

“James Sithole of ward 7 and Charles Moyo of ward 9, had applied and have been awarded town house stands at Parklands. The stands, numbers 15943 and 1594, measuring 3,7 hectares and 2,3 hectares are valued at $184 000 and $112 000 respectively,” BPRA coordinator Rodrick Fayayo said in a statement.                   

“It is BPRA’s contention that mechanisms should be put in place to prevent councillors and other officials from abusing their positions to enrich themselves at the expense of the public.

“BPRA is concerned that while stands are being allocated to councillors and other elites, very little is being done to afford lower income groups an opportunity to get houses, with the housing waiting list running into hundreds of thousands.”

Fayayo said the council documents had showed that there has been a dispute over the interpretation of privileges for councillors, which was used to allocate the stands to the officials.

“The documents further show that the director of housing and community services accepted the application, recommending that the two stands be allocated to the two councillors.

“While the city legal officer advised against misinterpretation of the Government Circular relating to privileges for councillors on residential and commercial stands as this could create problems for council, the full council meeting went on to approve the application,” said Fayayo.

He said the organisation would take up the issue with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works to seek a forensic audit of councillors as well as engage residents on the way forward.

“BPRA has in the past received complaints from residents that councillors were taking over public toilets, and had assumed ownership of car parks and housing stands.

“This latest development is an indication that all these concerns have been genuine, and that there is need to ensure that councillors are not corruptly accumulating properties.

“Last year, there were reports that the Bulawayo deputy mayor, councillor Gift Banda had acquired 3,5 hectares of land for the construction of town houses. This led to a public outcry after there were allegations the land, part of Ascot racecourse, had been bought for less than its actual value,” Fayayo said.

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