MDC stupidity hands Bulawayo to govt, as Commission steps in

July Moyo

AFFAIRS of the City of Bulawayo might soon be run by an administrative commission if a government probe rolled out last week finds councillors and officials guilty and complicit in corruption activities, it has emerged.

A team of investigators dispatched by Local Government minister July Moyo arrived in Bulawayo last week to probe corruption and mismanagement allegations in the country’s second-largest city.

Mayor Solomon Mguni yesterday confirmed that the probe had already been completed.

“The investigators did conclude their mission and have gone back to Harare. I cannot comment further. For more information, you can contact the minister,” Mguni said.

Moyo could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print.

Sources close to the developments revealed yesterday that government could be forced to “fire” councillors whose fingers would be caught in the cookie jar.

A list of 22 names to constitute the potential commission have reportedly been forwarded to Moyo to choose from. The list includes names such as Moffat Ndlovu, who is the city’s former town clerk and proposed commission chairman, Ntombizakhe Mlilo, a board member at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) and Ingwebu Breweries, one of the council’s subsidiaries, Gilbert Mlilo (Gwanda town clerk), as well as other representatives from the church and civic society.

It would not be the first time for government to appoint a commission to run the affairs of a city in the event its elected council was suspended.

In the former President Robert Mugabe-era, then Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo appointed several commissions to run local authorities that were said to be under distress.

“Those investigators simply came to confirm what is now known; that there has been too much corruption in Bulawayo. This is corruption that dates back to the old council which people have been sitting on and trying to suppress.

“Now that it is in the public domain, we are likely to see drastic action being taken by the government on the City of Bulawayo, for the first time. This (appointing of a commission for Bulawayo) has been something that government has been eager to do, but did not have a way through which they could realise their wish,” a source said.

BCC, lauded as a doyen of urban local authority management, has been on smouldering fire since last year following an exposé in which the city fathers were accused of soliciting for bribes from potential service providers and tender bidders. At the time, it appeared the scandals were limited to housing stands only, with many hoping the matter would be solved amicably.

However, there appeared to be more than meets the eye in Bulawayo as more evidence of corruption continued to emerge at City Hall.

Allegations of impropriety on the part of councillors have also emerged, with some of them being accused of soliciting for bribes from companies bidding to run a carpark management programme in the city.

Last year, four Bulawayo councillors were fingered in an alleged carpark scam, in which it is said they were pampered with hotel accommodation and other goodies in a move by potential bidders to help influence the outcome of the tender process.