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Out-going Bulawayo Mayor says he worked well with government

Bulawayo mayor Solomon Mguni
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OUTGOING Bulawayo Mayor, Councillor Solomon Mguni has implored opposition led local authorities to stop being blinded by petty party politics and opposing for the sake of it, reminding them that they are quasi-government institutions whose operations are overseen by the Government.

In an interview with the Zimpapers Elections Desk, Clr Mguni said during his term his council worked well with the Government that provided both guidance and assistance in addressing essential issues that uplifted and eased the lives of Bulawayo residents.

He said the Second Republic has come up with a number of deliberate interventions to resolve some of the problems that have dogged Bulawayo for a very long time, adding that significant progress had been made on the Gwayi-Shangani Dam which was a long-term solution to the city’s perennial water shortages.

The Government also intervened on the road network after the city revealed that 75 percent of its roads needed rehabilitation as they have outlived their lifespan. Clr Mguni said there was cooperation between his council and the Second Republic in resolving the city’s challenges which underscored the President’s commitment to working with local authorities to find sustainable solutions to challenges faced by residents.

“What is very important and key, which some people lose sight of, is that being in local government, you are part of Government. Local authorities are quasi-Government institutions; they are agents of Government. There is no Government for Bulawayo, Harare or Gweru, we all serve under one Government and it is very important to follow Government policies and directives.

“I know some people will be quick to say, you are weak, if you follow Government policies and you are in the opposition, however, it is always important that if there are any Government policies and directives, in terms of law, you try as much as possible to stick to those, otherwise, in terms of Government policy, we feed into the realisation of those policies as we serve the same people at the end of the day,” said the Mayor, a lawyer by profession.

Clr Mguni praised President Mnangagwa for his open door policy, noting that it showed his commitment to resolving problems faced in the city.

“We started our term during one of the worst droughts after the 1992 one. Remember we had to apply for Bulawayo to be declared a critical water shortage area, which application was turned down after assessment of requirements for such a declaration. However, the Government stepped in to assist, which saw a lot of projects being undertaken in the city. The resuscitation of boreholes in Nyamandlovu, we then saw the speedy implementation of the Gwayi-Shangani water project which before that request for the declaration was moving at a slow pace, now we can safely say that in the next season, water can reach Bulawayo considering the activities happening on the pipeline and on the dam itself.

“I remember we were invited to the State House in Bulawayo by the President, it was the Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube, the late Director of Engineering Services, Engineer Simela Dube and myself. We were there to present the case for them to allocate us money to address our water challenges, this was after the water contamination challenge in Luveve. To be honest the President was forthcoming in the challenges we were facing and the Government itself has been helpful in resolving our challenges.”

The Mayor also revealed that besides the Gwayi-Shangani Dam and pipeline project, the Government had already committed to funding a number of smaller projects that would assist the city in the short term.

“Indeed, there have been a lot of interventions in water augmentation projects, a lot of promises in other projects in the south, including Inyankuni booster and Insiza pipeline duplication where the Government through the Ministry of Finance has made a commitment to release funds to assist Bulawayo. It all goes to the fact that you will need to work together, you do not need to love or hate each other, you cannot say you have to belong to the same political party with the governing party for you to talk and agree on something that is meant to further service delivery, in short, do not oppose just for the sake of opposing,” he said.

With regards to their term of office at the helm of City Hall, Clr Mguni said through working together and understanding Government policies they managed to ensure that they were the only local authority in the country with a full complement of senior staffers, without any suspension or arrest.

“In terms of human capital, we scored a lot of successes, as we speak we are the only city or municipality with a full complement of heads of department. We do not have anyone on acting capacity, suspension or is facing any criminal charges. For Bulawayo we have over the years managed to run a clean government, a clean government in the sense that if you look at our policies and resolutions, they are in terms of council policies and the laws of the land. There is what you call a straight-jacket approach to issues of governance in Bulawayo, so that is why you see that every time when the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission came to enquire on how we do things they found everything in order,” said Clr Mguni.

Regarding some of the controversial scenarios during his term such as one relating to former Deputy Mayor, Mr Tinashe Kambarami leaving office, Clr Mguni said in most cases councillors get into office with a wrong mindset and do not even seek guidance on how council operates. Mr Kambarami unsuccessfully attempted to get the city’s Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube suspended from office.

“The challenge we face is when councillors come in with a closed mind; perceived corruption, perceived malpractices on the part of management, such that you have an outgoing crop of councillors who then advise those incoming councillors that this is the situation, that is why you get such occurrences as what happened to Mr Kambarami, who I think was a victim of ill-advice and was acting on instructions from outside.

“As a Deputy Mayor, I believe one would have sought proper advice on how to go about some of these things. In all fairness, everything has to be procedural. If he had a good belief that a misconduct had been committed, there are procedures to be followed. In council, officials are always there to advise council but the problem is that most councillors do not want to be advised by the officials.

“Emotions aside, people should work on facts, on what is obtaining on the ground. I have already heard some aspiring councillors from my party already starting to form opinions from what they hear outside, without subjecting that to facts on the ground and what is happening in council,” said Clr Mguni.

Questioned on his next move after his term expires in a few weeks’ time, Clr Mguni said; “I am going back to my legal practice full time, but I can always serve my country in whatever capacity that will avail itself. I am still a member of my party, in good standing and I await further deployments as they come.”

Source – The Sunday News