A RECENT application by a Bulawayo resident to be allocated space to establish a private cemetery in the city has split the local authority with some councillors arguing that the project is meant to push burial fees beyond the reach of many ordinary residents.
Report by Nqobani Ndlovu
Other councillors want the project to go ahead arguing it would help improve service delivery.
Elizabeth Magdelana recently wrote to council seeking permission to set up a private cemetery.
Bulawayo does not have private cemeteries with all cemeteries in the city being run by the local authority.
However, according to the latest council minutes, the matter has stirred controversy with some councillors opposed to the idea.
Part of the minutes read: “Councillor Collet Ndhlovu said that there was need for council to control establishment of cemeteries and if necessary, the relevant policy should be reviewed.
“Councillor Norman Hlabani did not support the establishment of a private cemetery as this would create an undesirable precedent.
“Councillor Clayton Zana felt that there was need to protect members of the public as the fees for private cemeteries would be too high.
“Councillor Martin Moyo was concerned that such cemeteries would be abandoned in future after filling, creating problems for the council,” the minutes read.
However, others said establishment of private cemeteries would lead to creation of more burial space and improve service.
“Councillor Earnest Rafamoyo observed that there was limited space for graves in the city. In view of this, he felt that the request should be acceded to.
“Councillor Elmon Mpofu concurred saying that competition was healthy and would result in improved service delivery.
“Councillor Benjamin Ndlovu also supported the establishment of a private cemetery as the applicant would also apply for special consent.
“Councillor James Sithole’s view was that there should be no monopoly and the proposal would result in improved service delivery,” the minutes added.
In terms of relevant legislation, cemeteries could be established through the special consent procedure and should be registered by the government.
Council-run cemeteries are fast filling and the local authority has urged residents to consider cremation to save burial space.
The council has also drawn up a controversial burial plan to preserve the current burial space.
The burial strategy comprises of three approaches, including digging up deep graves to allow for two or three burials, stopping the reservation of graves and asking owners of unused graves to sell them back to the council and the reduction of cremation tariffs to less than half the price of a traditional burial.