Beitbridge seeks city status

HARARE - It’s one of State’s oldest towns, but with a growing population and a location right off the political border between South Africa and Zimbabwe that’s attractive to major corporations.

The border town in the province of Matabeleland South is looking to change the way it does business. It may become a city.

The Beitbridge Town Council has published a notice to upgrade to a city in accordance with the Urban Councils Act.

The notice gives individuals who would want to make any representations concerning the upgrade 30 days to do so.

“Notice is hereby given in terms of subsection (1) of 11 of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) that is intended to recommend to the president that he exercises powers conferred upon him in terms of Section 4 of the Urban Councils Act (chapter 29:15) to establish Beitbridge Municipality from a Town Council,” the notice read. 

“Maps and reports relating to these proposals are available for inspection free of charge at the offices of the secretary of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Makombe Building, Leopold Takawira Street, and the offices of the town secretary, Beitbridge Town Council.

“Any person who wishes to make representations concerning these proposals should lodge such representations in writing to the secretary for Local Government, Public Works and national Housing Private Bag 7755 Causeway, Harare, by no later than 30 days after the third publication of this notice. The city will consist of wards one up to six according to the notice.”

The town lies just north of the Limpopo River about one kilometre from the Alfred Beit Road Bridge which spans the Limpopo River between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The main roads lead from the border 321km north-west to Bulawayo and 585km north-east to Harare via Masvingo.

According to the 2002 population census, the town had a population of 22,387 dominated by the local Venda people, who are also found across the international border in the Vhembe District of the Republic of South Africa.

The Beitbridge Border post is the busiest road border post in southern Africa, and is best avoided during busy border-crossing seasons.

The upgrade has received overwhelming support from Beitbridge residents who are convinced the municipality status will bring economic development to the border town.

This was after the Local Government ministry set up a commission to hear recommendations and views from residents on the proposal.

The town’s day to day business is handled by a town clerk, but residents say big projects can be bogged down in committees and subcommittees for years.

Residents think an elected mayor and city council will help move Beitbridge forward.

The town secretary Loud Ramakgapola has said the municipality status will allow the town to grow economically, resulting in the improved service delivery.

The town is also planning on constructing a big shopping mall, another hospital, and a water reservoir, among other infrastructure, according to reports. 

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