SOUTHERN NEWS | AAG reports town clerk to Mugabe

BULAWAYO - Indigenous pressure group, the Affirmative Action Group (AAG), has written to President Robert Mugabe to express its unhappiness with the decision by the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to allocate gold claims to town clerk Christopher Dube and George Mlilo — the permanent secretary in the ministry of Local Government.

Dube, through his company Belmac Investments, was a fortnight ago awarded mining claims located at Aisleby Farm, owned by council.

Mlilo, on the other hand, now jointly won a claim at council’s Good Hope Farm along with one Mngane Ncube.

He was able to beat Bulawayo mayor Martin Moyo to it.

Moyo had been shortlisted for the claim awarded to Mlilo.

Founded by flamboyant businessman Phillip Chiyangwa AAG has written to the Office of the President and Cabinet expressing its discomfort at the city fathers’ decision, slammed by residents as a blatant abuse of authority.

Curiously, the decision came just a few months after Dube had been blocked from taking up the claims by councillors, who argued that they should benefit the city and not individuals.

In a letter dated September 17, 2017 referenced “Corruption allegations: George Mlilo and Christopher Dube of Bulawayo City Council in allocation of gold claims” addressed to chief secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, the pressure group had no kind words for the city fathers.

“As you are aware  . . . Mlilo, who is the permanent secretary of ministry of Local Government, has been allocated gold claims together with . . . Dube, the town clerk for Bulawayo City Council.

“This is abuse of public office and corruption between public officials, who instead of over-seeing the operations and conduct of each other, collude in self-enrichment schemes,” reads part of the letter signed by AAG Matabeleland Chapter president Reginald Shoko.

The letter was copied to the BCC authorities.

Apart from engaging Mugabe seeking his urgent intervention, AAG is also threatening to take legal action.

“We therefore request your good office to urgently intervene and curb this rot which is cancerous and detrimental to service delivery,” Shoko noted, adding that “a strange coincidence is that the alleged meeting was chaired by the suspended former deputy mayor, Gift Banda, who had his suspension rescinded by the court because . . . Mlilo, on behalf of the Local Government ministry, and Christopher Dube decided not to oppose his court application in exchange for gold claims from Gift Banda.”

“We hope you will deal with this matter with the urgency it deserves to avoid us taking it to the courts and the Anti-Corruption Commission) for redress.”

Banda, who was last year expelled by Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere over corruption charges, recently resumed duties as the deputy mayor after the High Court ordered his reinstatement.

Recently, residents — represented by the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association said the move by council was part of “a looting trend by councillors and local authority officials in Bulawayo”.

Formed in 1994, the AAG was established out of frustration by the young black businessmen Peter Pamire (now late) and Chiyangwa at the Indigenous Business Development Council (IBDC)’s failure to influence swift changes to the economic environment to favour indigenous black business people.

Unlike the IBDC, the AAG was radical in approach and used more stridently nationalistic language.

It was to become very clear, however, that the AAG was more representing the interests of a few vocal blacks than a broader empowerment vision.

The AAG does not shy away from voicing its concerns over transactions that do not embrace its vision for an empowerment model that is broad-based.

Recently, AAG president Chamu Chiwanza came out guns blazing against the sale of Barclays Bank Zimbabwe to First Merchant Bank of Malawi.



Gwanda water crisis persists

THE water crisis in this arid mining town is not improving despite indications by government that a solution would be found soon.

Early this year, Environment and Water minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri was forced to intervene after the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) was forced to cut supplies to the town over a payment dispute.

Zinwa insists the town owes it $10 million in water bills, while council is adamant that only $3 million is outstanding.

Following Muchinguri-Kashiri’s intervention, Zinwa was directed to ration water to council as opposed to cutting off supplies completely.

The Water minister also dispatched a commission on a fact-finding mission to Gwanda amid expectations that its report would highlight if the municipality had the capacity to run its own water system.

Four months down the line, the city fathers and desperate residents are disappointed over the delay by government in addressing the persisting water crisis.

Gwanda mayor Knowledge Ndlovu said council was still waiting for the feedback from government.

He said: “We are in the dark; we are still waiting for the communication from government, perhaps it’s time we made a follow-up”.

Gwanda Residents Association secretary-general Bekezela Maduma Fuzwayo said it had taken too long for the commission’s findings to be made known to expectant residents.

“When the minister’s team came here we were made to believe that in just a fortnight the government’s position will be known, but it seems its taking forever,” he said.

“We have tried to talk to the minister and council to understand where the delay is in getting the committee’s final determination on handing over the plant to council but there is no clear cut explanation.

“When we spoke to the minister she said she was attending to other councils while the Gwanda issue is still being considered by Cabinet.

“We fail to understand where the complications with Gwanda are, and these are not being explained to us as residents.”

He added: “ . . . we continue to suffer water rationing and water cuts that go for days”.

“The situation has not improved, the water situation here remains a big problem,” he said.

Fuzwayo added: “We have areas that have not had a drop of water since the rationing started in March.

“On average, most serviceable areas go for up to about four days with no water.

“Much of the town is now on prepaid water but still we get cut off so we no longer understand where the problem is.”



Is Byo City Hall venue cursed?

EVER since music promoters turned to the Large City Hall car park to host local and international shows, it seems the gigs have been marred by unprecedented poor turnouts.

The venue — located in the convenient Bulawayo central business district —has been the best alternative for most promoters after council banned evening shows at the traditional Amphitheatre a few months ago.

Firstly, it was the much-hyped Jamaican Busy Signal gig at the venue which ended in chaos.

Soon after that, local artistes organised a show at the same venue featuring the likes of high-riding Madlela Sikhobokhobo, Jeys Marabini, Sandra Ndebele, Clement Magwaza and Cal_Vin, among others.

It was again a classic flop.

Then, a few weeks ago, respected South African kwaito star Babes Wodumo’s show proved not any different. Fans surprisingly stayed away.

The surprise rebuff saw the organiser — 2 Kings Entertainment (2 Kings) — declaring the show free, in a desperate attempt to boost numbers.

And when everyone thought Wodumo’s fellow countryman, hip-hop star and crowd-puller Cassper Nyovest, who last year filled the 20 000-seater TicketPro Dome in South Africa was going to break the jinx and exorcise the City Hall, it turned out to be same old disappointing story.

Just above 500 people turned out for Nyovest’s gig last weekend.

2 Kings spokesperson Terminator Makoni attributed the poor turnouts to ugly scenes witnessed at Busy Signal’s show.

“The events of that day are still vivid in their (fans)minds, it was indeed a sad scenario, when they hear or think of City Hall car park they quickly think of violence and paying for artistes who won’t perform.

“Imagine, on that day most people had to scale the wall to safety, so it’s hard for people to easily forget,” Makoni said.

“For now, the only way forward is to look for another venue. There is no solution.

“It’s unfortunate the city fathers have their own decisions and I feel they killed all the concert rhythm by banning the use of the Amphitheatre and Trade Fair grounds for night shows.”

Intwasa Arts Festival director Raisedon Baya who was one of the organisers of the local artistes’ show that flopped, said promoters only need to publicise their shows.

“City Hall car park is the best venue. There is nothing wrong with it. Poor turnouts are due to bad publicity and bad timing.”



ZB hails sanctions delisting

ZB FINANCIAL Holdings (ZB) has lauded the United States’ decision to remove the institution from the sanctions list, saying the move re-opened avenues to work with other financial institutions across the globe.

The US imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in the early 2000s, targeted at President Robert Mugabe and his cronies, including State-run organisations.

ZB, with several subsidiaries including a banking unit — ZB Bank, was among the government institutions slapped with the restrictive measures.

ZB Bank’s head of corporate services, Shadowsight Chiganze, told journalists here that the sanctions had severely undermined the institution’s operations.

“Since our removal from the sanctions list in October last year, we have been able to re-open our relationships with correspondent banks in Europe and other parts of the globe.

“This has facilitated smooth flow of foreign currency transactions in US dollar, Euro, Rand and several other currencies,” he said over the weekend.

“We are currently working on a facility with regional banks. This facility we are sure will facilitate business, particularly for those that are exporting,” Chiganze said.

ZB, along with other government-owned banks such as Agribank and the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe, were removed from the sanctions list in October last year by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Meanwhile, ZB over the weekend launched its housing programme in Plumtree, where it unveiled 780 stands at George Silundika Extension.

“We have been pursuing a strategy to acquire land and have been negotiating with various local authorities that have got land available for housing development,” Chinganze said.

Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony in Plumtree, ZB chief executive Ron Mutandagayi said: “The land bank which we as ZB has purchased is made up of 708 stands of which 366 are in the high density with the balance of 342 being in the medium density suburbs.”

He said the ceremony marked the commencement of servicing of the stands through the provision of roads, sewer and electricity infrastructure and construction of model homes for the Plumtree community.

“The focus of this project is to build the community by providing affordable housing and the project is anticipated to be complete by April 2018,” Mutandagayi said.



Warrant of arrest for Zanu PF legislator

ZANU PF’s Nkulumane legislator, Killian Sibanda, has been issued with a warrant of arrest after failing to pay maintenance for his child.

Sibanda’s ex-girlfriend, Achiwangani Maseko, approached the courts recently seeking an order to compel him to settle $440 school fees arrears for their child.

The lawmaker was on September 21, 2016 ordered by magistrate Manasa Musiwa to pay $250 per month towards the upkeep of the child. While he was garnished by the court for part of the maintenance, he was supposed to pay $146 directly to the child’s school every month.

“The minor child was enrolled on the 27th of March at St Gabriel’s Nursery school for the second term. However, Sibanda has not adhered to the court’s orders and has defaulted making payments to the school’s bank and is now in total arrears of $440,” reads part of Maseko’s affidavit.

According to court summons sent to Sibanda dated August 10, 2017, he was given seven days to respond, and he did not.

“It has been noted with great concern by this office that you have been making erratic or non payment of the maintenance contributions,” reads part of the reminder from the maintenance court.

“You are reminded that failure to comply with your obligation towards maintenance may lead to criminal proceedings against you without further notice. You are now in areas of $440 school fees.

“Failure to comply with this court order within the seven days a warrant of apprehension will be issued against you”.

However, it seems Sibanda didn’t bother himself forcing the law to take its course and a warrant of arrest being issued against him.

Southern News understands that a docket was opened at Bulawayo Central Police station last week and the police are hunting for the legislator.

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