Sunday, 14 July 2019

GOVT BANS COUNCILLORS FROM ALLOCATING STANDS


THE Government has stopped councillors from being directly or indirectly involved in the employment, procurement and allocation of stands as this is a prerogative of the council management.

Speaking at a Press briefing at the Mhlahlandlela Government Complex in Bulawayo on Friday, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister, Cde July Moyo said there was a need to restore sanity within the local governance sector hence they will use all legislation in their power to force councillors to toe the line.

The minister’s sentiments came after turmoil in Bulawayo that saw some councillors led by Deputy Mayor, Tinashe Kambarami trying to forcibly suspend the city’s Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube. The councillors were allegedly angered after Mr Dube stopped them from interfering in the distribution of the $5 million ward retention fund, procurement processes and the employment of community groups and control of the sub-committee on the allocation of stands and premises for development. 

“My advice to all councillors, not just in Bulawayo is that employment is not part of their job, this is the job of their administrators, they (councillors) are responsible for employing just the top officials and below that it is the responsibility of council officials.

“Imagine if we wake up saying Parliamentarians are responsible for the employment of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, will these police be able to police these parliamentarians — never, which is why we have said councillors cannot take it upon themselves to meddle in employment matters,” said Cde Moyo.

He said the councillors should stick to what the law provided and let such matters be handled by the professionals employed to do that.

“Government has been very fair to councillors by giving them the mandate at least to appoint the senior officials only, I myself do not meddle in the employment issues of my ministry, there are people responsible for this, we won’t hesitate to employ stern measures to ensure that they stay in check,” said Cde Moyo.


Bulawayo councillors have constantly clashed with council officials and residents over the employment of sweeping groups in their wards, with the councillors being accused of politicising the process. The sweeping groups do various council stipulated duties inclusive of drain clearing, road maintenance, grass cutting and street cleaning, and get a monthly salary.

At one point the Bulawayo Metropolitan Provincial Administrator, Ms Khonzani Ncube had to write to the local authority on behalf of the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, questioning the functions of the community groups.

Regarding the issue of interference in procurement matters, Minister Moyo said the recently promulgated Procurement Act was clear on how all procurement should be handled and nowhere in this act was there a provision that councillors had a role to play.

“I have been told that there are councillors who are interfering with procurement. The Procurement Act that has been put in place is clear about who ought to be doing procurement just as ministers are not doing procurement, councillors are not supposed to be involving themselves in procurement issues. This is the work of council staff and even the staff in order to make sure that heads of department also do not end up doing things that are wrong, there are special committees that are set up in each council that are responsible for procurement,” he said.

Cde Moyo noted that the issue of procurement extends to the allocation of stands where he said the interference by councillors in the allocation of stands caused unnecessary chaos which had the danger of scaring away possible investors.

“We cannot have councillors allocating stands, just as myself, I do not allocate stands, instead on behalf of Government I have State land and a State land office, which is not even in the same building as my office, that is responsible for allocating such land. People go to the State land office to be on the waiting list and they are allocated land according to this waiting list. So all councillors should stand warned that the work of allocation of stands for residential, commercial and industrial is the prerogative of council officials, it is that simple,” said the minister. 

He said the ministry was now taking a sterner approach in monitoring councillors to ensure that they adhere to laid down legislation.

“I must warn the councillors that if we have to enforce various legislation using all kinds of enforcement systems that are at our disposal we will do it without hesitation because we want to govern ourselves properly so that when investors come they know where to go and look for an office which can allocate stands, if they end up looking for a councillor that creates chaos and that should not be allowed,” he said.

Bulawayo’s sub-committee on allocation of stands and premises for development, which is a sub-committee of the Finance and Development Committee charged with, among other things, the allocation of premises for commercial, industrial stands and leases of council properties, has previously been a sticking point within the local authority with councillors constantly fighting over its control. Sunday News

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