|Councillors, officials clash over beer gardens|
|Wednesday, 28 November 2012 09:27|
Municipal CorrespondentBULAWAYO city councillors and council officials last Wednesday clashed over a proposal for the Bulawayo Municipal Commercial Undertaking (BMCU) to rescind their decision to franchise out Big Bhawa and MaDlodlo beer gardens in Makokoba amid accusations that there were some individuals within council trying to get leases for the beer gardens.
The city’s deputy mayor, Councillor Amen Mpofu, said while as council they fully backed the franchising system, it would be premature to comment as the committee responsible for handling the matter — the business committee — should first exhaust the issue.
“Generally, there is nothing wrong with this franchising system. We have to give it a chance and see where it is leading us. Concerning that particular issue, it is still yet to come before the full council. The business committee has to first handle the matter, it is only when we feel the decision they reached is wrong that we will override their resolution,” said Clr Mpofu.
According to a council confidential report, the local authority had received a letter from former executive mayor, Mr Japhet Ndabeni Ncube, to have them retain the Big Bhawa under Ingwebu “for sentimental reasons”.
This request was subsequently turned down by the BMCU board. However, during last week’s business committee meeting, it was recommended that council instructs the board to consider retaining Big Bhawa and MaDlodlo which would be against the original council decision to have all the beer gardens franchised to private individuals.
“Maintaining MaKhumalo (Big Bhawa) in its current administration will ensure that institutional memory of administering beer outlets is retained, it is critical that beer outlet management skills are kept alive in the Strategic Business Unit as there is a possibility to take all the outlets back in the future.
“It is also important that the Strategic Business Unit has a facility for researching and developing new ideas, it is further suggested that MaDlodlo beer garden be also retained under Ingwebu Management for the same reasons,” reads the report.
When the issue was brought up for discussion last Wednesday, it is reported councillors and officials accused each other of trying to influence the whole process of franchising so that the beer gardens could be distributed among themselves.
The matter was eventually deferred with a special business committee meeting to be convened just to discuss the matter.
“There are a lot of accusations being thrown around in respect to this franchising system. Last time when the first batch of beer gardens were released, you find that there were a number of council officials who got some of the beer gardens. Therefore councillors are now of the view that there is some underhand dealings in the whole issue.
“Councillors say they want this whole franchising system to be thoroughly explained to them thus the need for a special meeting to be convened just to discuss that matter alone,” said a councillor who attended the meeting.
Another councillor said if the local authority allowed the request to have the beer gardens retained to council, it was going to render the whole process useless as they would have disadvantaged some individuals who had made applications targeting them.
“It is too late to rescind the decision because already people have made applications and have been interviewed; it will thus be unfair to just disqualify them on the grounds that we want to retain them, we should have made it known at the start that those beer gardens won’t be franchised.
“My worry is there is someone trying to cover up their tracks in all this, we passed a resolution to franchise all the beer gardens so what has happened now,” said the councillor.