The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Municipal Reporter
BULAWAYO councillors have set themselves on a collision course with the Government amid indications that they have started allocating each other unsubstantiated lease agreements for council properties in the city.
This came to light when the city’s Mayor, Councillor Solomon Mguni got past the first hurdle of leasing a bottle store in Njube under controversial circumstances. To add insult to injury, it has come to light that the mayor’s wife had also applied to lease a shop in Makokoba but made a U-turn when council officials warned the couple that the move was likely to backfire on the local authority.
Impeccable council sources revealed that councillors under the sub-committee of allocation of stands and premises had initially turned down Clr Mguni’s bid but this was overturned by the finance and development committee under controversial circumstances where Ward One Councillor Mlandu Ncube allegedly threatened and ordered councillors to put their necks on the block for the mayor.
Councillors who attended the meeting expressed outrage at the conduct of Clr Ncube claiming he had acted in an unprofessional manner and ridiculed fellow councillors and management.
“When the meeting began, Clr Mguni recused himself when the report was tabled, he actually excused himself from the entire meeting. We debated the matter, with all members agreeing with the recommendation not to award the mayor. To our surprise while we were still debating, Clr Ncube stormed in, with his hand already raised, in his contribution he literally threatened councillors to change the resolution and award the mayor, he told us to put our heads on the line for Clr Mguni, fellow members tried to object but Clr Ncube would have none of it until the matter was passed,” said a councillor who declined to be named fearing victimisation.
The sources further revealed that the sub-committee of allocation of stands and premises had tried to advise Clr Mguni to resubmit the application using his wife’s name only to discover that the wife had also made separate application to lease a shop in Makokoba.
The Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube and the Chamber Secretary, Mrs Sikhangele Zhou are also said to have raised their concerns on the matter advising councillors that the move was tantamount to shooting themselves on the foot.
“Management made it clear that the move was going to backfire on the local authority as it would attract unnecessary attention if it was picked by residents associations or the media but there was nothing that could be done since the matter had been passed.We now await the full council meeting where the matter will be discussed by all the councillors but indications that we are getting from the camp, which Clr Mguni is part of, is that the mayor will be forced to turn down the offer in a bid to save face,” said another councillor.
Contacted for comment, Clr Mguni acknowledged having made the application saying he had responded to an advertisement in the Press like any other resident and was now waiting for a response from council.
“I forwarded my application like any other resident and when that matter was being discussed I recused myself from the meeting and I would not know whether I got the lease or not, I am eagerly awaiting the full council meeting to see whether I got it or not,” he said.
A couple of years ago the Government had to dispatch an investigation team to Bulawayo after it emerged that the city’s councillors were dishing out properties among themselves. The investigation revealed that out of the 29 councillors, then, only five had not been given any council property to lease.