The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter
BULAWAYO councillors have continued to expose their penchant to grab properties, a move likely to set them on a collision course with Government and residents.
In the last full council meeting held in the council chambers on Wednesday, councillors approved an application by Ward 26 Councillor, Alderman Norman Hlabani to establish a sports bar in Emganwini. This comes barely two months after the city’s Mayor, Councillor Solomon Mguni was forced to give up on a controversial move to lease out a bottle store in Njube.
The sub-committee on allocation of stands and properties had initially rejected Clr Mguni’s application but this decision was overturned under controversial circumstances by the finance and development committee, before the issue was referred back to the sub-committee after residents raised a red flag over the move.
In the latest development, Ald Hlabani wanted to establish the sports bar claiming residents in Emganwini were now discerning consumers of beer and they wanted decent places to drink from.
“It is our belief that many of them will not want to drink while playing hide and seek with the police. Given a choice they would prefer a legal establishment, within walking distance from their homes, where they can relax with their friends and have the comforts of ablution facilities, indoor games and satellite television to watch their favourite sport.
“They need an establishment which can provide a conducive atmosphere for drinking while relaxing, thus the concept of a sports bar. This development will create employment for Emganwini Township residents as it is intended to use local people to reduce transport costs and to create a homely atmosphere,” reads part of Ald Hlabani’s application.
He claimed that the sports bar would remove the drinking fraternity from the public environment where they are not only illegal but also a nuisance to the non-drinking members of the community.
“An inter-departmental committee meeting was convened on the 10th of July 2019 and a site visit undertaken thereafter to deliberate on the application. There were no objections from the departments to the application in principle,” reads part of a council report on the matter.
During Wednesday’s full council meeting, the application was passed without any discussions or objections, giving Ald Hlabani leeway to establish the sports bar.
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.
It was further revealed that when the councillors get the properties they default in paying rates and rentals resulting in the properties accruing debt, as council management could not take the route of evicting the councillors, for fear of victimisation.