Monday, 7 January 2019


A fire tender hired out to the ruling Zanu PF party during its annual National People’s Conference held in Esigodini last month has caused ructions here after it was rented out at a massive discount against council policy.

Zanu PF had its 17th conference in Matabeleland South between December 11 and 16, 2018, attended by over  6 000 delegates.

In line with safety and security procedures, the organisers of the conference hired a fire tender from the Bulawayo City Council, which is dominated by councillors from the main opposition MDC led by Nelson Chamisa.

Since its formation in 1999, the MDC has emerged as Zanu PF’s fiercest rival since independence in 1980.

Currently, the two parties are feuding over the outcome of the July 30 harmonised elections which the MDC insists were rigged by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in favour of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The Esigodini conference might have ended on a high-note some three weeks ago, but the decisions made by bureaucrats at town house to facilitate the event are dividing the city fathers here.

To start with, council does not hire its fire tenders to political events. As such, it had turned down the request from Zanu PF before rescinding the decision due to political pressure.
Another complication became the tariff structure.

Council had provided a quotation for $800 per hour which translated to $19 400 per day. This was going to cost Zanu PF a whooping $101 000, inclusive of distance, for the entire duration of the conference — that is four days. 

Zanu PF reportedly protested that the cost was too exorbitant.
Town clerk Christopher Dube then considered the figures for only one day and had to bend the tariff structure. 

Zanu PF was eventually asked to pay $13 378 for one day.
As a result, councillors have crossed swords in chambers over the matter.
It was highlighted in chambers that council only agreed to hire out the fire tender and its crew for the Zanu PF conference because of Mnangagwa’s presence at the event.

According to the latest council report, Dube received communication from Umzingwane district administrator on December 12, requesting for the services of the fire tender during the conference.
While council does not hire its fire tenders to political events, and had turned down the request, because of the presence of the president, it made an exception.

To cut costs, it was eventually agreed that council would only avail the fire tender when the president was present, and not cover the whole conference, and Zanu PF was eventually asked to pay $13 378 for one day.

Councillor Norman Hlabani sought clarification on the discounted rates, demanding to know what this translated to and whether council was not subsidising Zanu PF.

He also sought clarification from a legal point of view, and on what had happened in the past with such events.

Deputy mayor Tinashe Kambarami also raised concern over the issue, noting this was a party programme and the president was attending as a president of a political party and not State president.

Kambarami said the city council could not afford a free service to any political party as it was facing a lot of challenges.

The deputy mayor further noted that council was being forced to adjust tariffs not out of any justification but because of threats. 

He also said there were low chances of Zanu PF paying for service-rendered. As a result, he said, payment was supposed to be made upfront.

Councillor Silas Chigora, however, felt that it was good for council to create a good working relationship with other political parties

“However, there was need for council to find out how much costs it would bear, then look at recouping such costs, because these funds belonged to the residents. There was also a need to find out how much council would spend as compared to what they would pay,” Chigora said.

In response to the sentiments raised by the councillors, the chamber secretary noted that there were four fire stations and council had enough vehicles to cover those stations.

“However, council had a challenge in terms of manpower and any deployment to the function would affect the stations as the current situation had forced the Brigade to
close Nkulumane fire station due to manpower constraints.

She however explained that the $800 per hour was as per the approved Tariff schedule for 2018. Daily News


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