Wednesday, 6 October 2021

WE ARE WALLOWING IN POVERTY : BYO CITY FATHERS

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has been urged to look into the welfare of long-serving councillors who after leaving council live in abject poverty and even struggle to afford medical bills.

This call follows the death of former deputy mayor, Alderman Amen Mpofu who died last Friday after battling a kidney ailment amid indications he struggled to pay bills and access quality health care.

Mourners lamented how Alderman Mpofu’s death revealed the plight of city leaders, who after serving society and contributing to community development struggle to make ends meet.

Speaking at a Special Council meeting held at the council chambers Tuesday to honour Alderman Mpofu, several aldermen who attended called out the council and society for neglecting former councillors who were wallowing in poverty

Former Bulawayo Mayor, Thaba Moyo, who from 2009 worked with Alderman Mpofu as his deputy, expressed sadness at the unbelievable pain he saw in the deceased.

“We must learn to recognise and appreciate individuals whilst they are still alive,” he said, noting he could not come to terms with the sight of Alderman Mpofu when he was sick.

“The way he was feeling pain, yes he still looked like himself, his upper body and voice were still the same but his lower part of the body -his legs where he was feeling pain was unbelievable. I have to apologise I didn’t like that.”

Moyo described Alderman Mpofu as an open-minded person, who loved the truth and was a problem solver.

“If the world had people like Amen, it would be a better place to live in,” he said.

Alderman Phineas Ndlovu shed tears when he described the way his friend Amen had died.

“The pain Amen endured before he died was painful to watch,” he said.

Ndlovu concurred with Moyo that Alderman Mpofu was a hands-on individual who believed in confronting matters straightaway.

He cited how in 2013, he, Alderman Mpofu and former mayor -Thaba Moyo, once confronted the former local government minister, Ignatius Chombo over the cancellation of residents rates’ debts.

“We saw Chombo at his hotel room at the Holiday Inn where Mpofu argued that cancelling debts was unfair to residents who had paid and functioning of the council,” Ndlovu said.

Ndlovu also recalled a time when Alderman Mpofu’s family threw a surprise birthday party, joking that when he found out was angry his close friends had kept it a secret.

Alderman Davy Ndlovu also stated how Alderman Mpofu was an honest person, who prioritised “Bulawayo first.”

“Amen would say MDC and Zanu are the parties causing problems for the city and that he was not afraid to tell these parties if they did wrong,” he said.

Former deputy mayor, Albert Mhlanga described Alderman Mpofu as a man who stood for the truth, and stated how “his truth was not needed sometimes.”

“I wonder how Amen survived in politics because he was too honest. It’s rare to see a politician who speaks the truth because if you speak the truth, you are not elected,” he joked.

Current deputy mayor, Mlandu Ncube said the late Alderman Mpofu had strength in crowds and believed in giving others, especially the young, a chance in politics.

However, the deputy mayor acknowledged the welfare of aldermen had to be improved.

“This is a challenge before us today, we can run away from it but it’s the elephant in the room,” he said.

“Bulawayo, you have aldermen who worked for the city but go to their houses, these people are living a poor life. Bayadubeka, they can’t even buy painkillers. Is this what we want as Bulawayo – that they work for us but struggle afterwards.”

The deputy mayor said this would make the youth shun politics in Bulawayo, after seeing the squalid living conditions of long-serving councillors.

“Now people are crying that outsiders are coming to take positions here, it’s because you are not looking after those who are serving, so this is the biggest challenge I think,” Ncube said.

“Mpofu once sent me a message when he had failed to get transport to go for dialysis in Gweru until a relative stepped in. You see someone wearing mayoral chains, with fire brigades ringing sirens to show their importance when moving but in their time of pain we are not there, is that proper? When soldiers retire, they are treated at their facilities, why are we not working on something like that.”

Ncube challenged the council leadership to look into this matter urgently.

“Not only for aldermen but other council directors, bayadubeka! We pride ourselves as Bulawayo and doing things differently, but it’s affecting us. I’ve seen some aldermen who don’t have money to go to hospital. Let’s fix that or let us not even give them these titles because we would be embarrassing them,” the deputy mayor said. Cite.org.zw

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