Vusumuzi Dube, Municipal Reporter
THE Government has ordered Bulawayo councillors to pay for iPads which they recently got from the local authority, warning them that they cannot do as they wish but should seek guidance and listen to residents’ views.
It further emerged that the councillors had passed a resolution to force the Bulawayo City Council to purchase the iPads for them without approval from the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, seeking authority only after the iPads had been bought for them, a move which the ministry has described as mischievous.
The councillors had demanded the iPads in addition to the laptops which they got a couple of years ago, arguing that the laptops were cumbersome.
According to a council confidential report the Ministry wrote to the council ordering the councillors to pay for the laptops warning the local authority to respect the parent ministry and always seek guidance when handling such matters.
“Reference is made to your application for the condonation of the purchase of iPads for councillors. It is sincerely hoped that Bulawayo City Council will stop the practice of seeking condonation for actions already taken.
“This shows scant regards for the Ministry circular or for the right of the Minister to decline requests made. The public outcry of your action should warn you to proceed with caution in future,” reads the report.
The ministry further warned that if councillors fail to have paid for the iPads in full by the end of their terms in office they risk losing them.
“I wish to inform you that the Minister has approved that the iPads may be kept by councillors but will be expected to pay for them in full before the end of their term of office in equal monthly instalments.
“Failure to pay for the devices will result in them being returned to council.
“Please cease the practice of seeking regularisation of actions taken, it is not good governance,” reads part of the report.
Initially when councillors passed the resolution for them to be given iPads and Wi-Fi installed in their homes there was a public outcry with residents accusing the councillors of being selfish and setting wrong priorities.
“Yes, we note that they are doing a good job in terms of service delivery but this is certainly not the time for them to be purchasing such gadgets for themselves.
“I am sure that if they set their priorities straight these gadgets should be at the bottom of the list.
“As residents we don’t want a scenario where we watch while they abuse our monies. They occupy those offices just to oversee service delivery, this is one thing they should always have in mind,” Bulawayo United Residents Association chairperson Mr Winos Dube was quoted as saying.
In 2014 when they got laptops the councillors became an immediate laughing stock during a full council meeting when a majority of them seemingly struggled to use the gadgets, giving a council IT expert a hard time as he had to move around the room assisting them.
Before the laptops were purchased a fight almost broke out during a closed door council meeting when the councillors demanded laptops from management.
They demanded to know why officials had not given them 29 laptops that were reportedly long bought for councillors in 2010.