The Sunday News
Collin Moyo, Sunday News Reporter
MORE than 60 beneficiaries of a housing scheme in Emganwini thronged Nketa Housing Office in Bulawayo on Thursday last week demanding answers from the local authority on the continued delay in availing residential stands which they bought five years ago.
This is not the first time the beneficiaries have demonstrated over the stands, with Bulawayo City Council officials reportedly saying their hands are tied by legal issues in resolving the matter as it is being handled by an arbitrator. Council had initially promised to hand over the stands in 2018.
However, the contractor, Tzircalle Brothers, moved from the site without completing the construction of roads, water and sewer reticulation system following a payment dispute with the council.
“Tzircalle Brothers reportedly insisted on being paid in United States dollars while the council wanted to pay in local currency resulting in a dispute.
The residents said they have been patient for long and had no option but to storm council offices to seek redress on the matter.
Mr Bigboy Ndlovu, a representative of the stand owners, accused the local authority of not being forthcoming regarding resolving the impasses.
“One contractor was given five projects and he failed to finish them leading to a dispute. At today’s meeting there was nothing concrete that the city council promised to do except promising to push the arbitration,” said Mr Ndlovu.
The residents said that the stands were allegedly bought during the dollarisation period and cost between US$5 000 and US$8 000.
Mr Victor Mlingani Nyoni, chairperson of the beneficiaries said they were disappointed by the council which has failed to resolve their dispute with the contractor within reasonable time and this has affected them as they had to wait for five years for the stands they paid in full.
“As the residents we have reached out to the council and the contractor to hear their sides of the story but all we ask for is that they resolve their dispute amicably as it has negatively affected us and that’s what we are pushing for.
“Some of the beneficiaries have died, others have lost capacity to build with the current economic hardships in the country while some who bought cement and other building material, which have since been damaged,” said Mr Nyoni.
Bulawayo Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube said there was not much they could do regarding the stands that were left hanging by the developers and subsequently referred for arbitration.
“The arbitration process is a court process, there is nothing we can do with affected schemes. I know there have been some demonstrations and people have been coming to us but we cannot do anything for those schemes that are under arbitration,” said Mr Dube.
Council is still to deliver more than 3 000 stands in various suburbs which residents paid for in full, after most private developers did not finish their work after demanding to be paid in US dollars at a time the country was using the local currency pegged at par with the US dollar.