Saturday, 10 April 2021

MANSION FOR BULAWAYO MAYOR


IN a first for Bulawayo, the city council is set to pamper the Mayor, Councillor Solomon Mguni, with a mayoral mansion located in the exclusive Hornung Golf Club in the leafy suburb of Burnside, Sunday News can reveal.

In addition, the mayor, who has been staying in the high-density suburb of Nkulumane, will have a 24-hour security guarding the mansion, among other perks that will be provided at the expense of rate payers.

The council contends that the mayor, who is Councillor for Ward 23, must have secure accommodation following a series of break-ins at his house. Two months ago, thieves broke into Clr Mguni’s car and stole cash among other valuables at his home in Nkulumane.

According to a council confidential report, after the mayor’s car was broken into, council considered to move him to a secure accommodation, claiming Clr Mguni could be attacked by disgruntled stakeholders.

“The person of the mayor might be a target of attacks by virtue of the office he occupies. Besides everyday thuggery, the Mayor might be targeted for attacks by disgruntled stakeholders for the reason that he is the council’s figurehead. Such attacks might have perilous results.

“Council owns a certain property at Hornung Golf Club and it is currently leased to a tenant.

“The Town Clerk (Mr Christopher Dube) considered it prudent that this be transformed into the Mayoral accommodation and that council provides security to guard the property and the occupants,” reads part of the report.

Council resolved that the person occupying the house must be given notice to vacate the premises and that thereafter it be occupied by the mayors of the city. According to the report, most of the councillors opposed the move questioning how Clr Mguni will continue to carry out his ward duties.

The Deputy Mayor, Councillor Mlandu Ncube, is the only one on record who defended the move arguing that security can only be provided on council properties.

“Discussion ensued and Alderman Siboniso Khumalo did not support the idea to move the Mayor from his ward. He said the Mayor had been voted for in Ward 23.

He sought clarity on how he was going to execute his duties.The Deputy Mayor (Clr Ncube) said BCC was the only local authority with no mayoral accommodation.

He further mentioned that council could not use its security on private property. Security could only be provided if the Mayor was occupying council property,” reads the report.

Other councillors who are members of the General Purposes Committee that rejected the proposed move include Clr Tawanda Ruzive and Clr Sinikiwe Mutanda, with some suggesting that instead Clr Mguni must have security beefed up at his house in Nkulumane. The decision reportedly only sailed through after Mr Dube (Town Clerk) reported that he had already begun engaging the Government and there were no objections to the move.

“The city legal officer felt there was a need to find out the position of the Ministry to mayoral accommodation. In response to the sentiments raised, the Town Clerk advised that he had started to communicate with the Ministry and the Ministry was agreeable as long as it was reasonable. He said the Mayor was constrained in terms of security matters,” reads the report. Sunday News visited the Burnside property last week. There was no one in the house and the news crew could not immediately ascertain how many rooms the house has. Nonetheless, the crew observed that it is a white double storey house. The perimeter fence has two gates, one opening to the main road while the other opens to the affluent, members only golf club. The golf club seems to be immaculately maintained although the house itself needs some touch-ups. The golf club is also not visible from the main road.

Local Government and Public Works Deputy Minister Marian Chombo told Sunday News that local governance in Zimbabwe is based on a concept of democratic representation.

“That way the people from a ward choose someone from their ward to represent them in council. When the chosen councillor decides not to live in that specific ward, one loses that basis for representation. You are no longer tasting your own services to that ward and you lose contact with the people you are supposed to be serving,” she said.

She, however, said the Urban Council Act and the Electoral Act do not necessarily require one to live in that specific ward.

“In that case somebody moving from his/her ward to live in another ward is not breaking the law but will not be fully in line with the concept of representative democracy. Mayors aren’t executive they are ward based.” Sunday News

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