Don't politicise assets declaration — Byo mayor

BULAWAYO - Bulawayo mayor Solomon Mguni has for the first time opened up on the debate surrounding asset declaration by councillors.

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (Bpra) last month petitioned the City Fathers calling for councillors to declare assets before they get down to serous council business.

The residents cited rampant corruption, embezzlement of council funds, bribery and nepotism as the major reasons why the incoming councillors should declare their assets.

Mguni — who had shunned the topic earlier — yesterday said assets declaration was a positive move except that it was being politicised, something he said was in bad taste.

“It’s a good thing if well managed,” Mguni told Southern News.

“The problem is that the issue, when raised, insinuates that councillors are corrupt. That’s where I personally have a problem with those raising it,” he said.

“It’s like a political subject being raised to target certain individuals. I would appreciate it if it’s being raised as a policy issue,” he said.

He took aim at the residents associations whom he also accused of resorting political means of dealing with the matter instead of reasonably proper and sound ways.

“But, those crying out loud about it are residents associations, some of which are political actors.

“Therefore, it makes it difficult for us to follow the genuineness of the debate,” Mguni said.

As a result, Mguni said, the debate on asset declaration should be deferred as long as there is no proper and mature engagement on the matter.

“My view is that, while in principle this might be a good idea, the subject has been hijacked by political opportunists and must be deferred until such a time we are politically-mature as a democracy.”

Bpra acting co-ordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu, in his petition last month, noted that: “Once such a declaration is made, registers of interest should then be developed and these should be made publicly accessible.

“The registers of interest should then be updated annually as and when changes in your assets occur and these shall be publicly accessible.”

The residents appeared convinced that asset declaration was the only way towards curbing corruption and embezzlement in local authorities.

Former Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere was at one time forced to suspend some councillors here, including then deputy mayor Gift Banda, on corruption allegations.

As if that was not enough, the Affirmative Action Group (AAG) even approached the Constitutional Court seeking the dissolution of the MDC-led Bulawayo council over the issue.

However, this whole debate between the councillors and residents comes at a time President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared that all public office holders — including Cabinet ministers, their deputies, senior government officials and bosses of State-owned businesses — were now legally required to make a declaration of assets.

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.