BULAWAYO City councillors have blocked a move by the government to strip them of their powers to recruit community groups to undertake various projects, dismissing the proposal as politically-motivated ahead of the polls.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
Councillors have been in charge of recommending residents for recruitment to join the community working groups to undertake road works, grass cutting and other council jobs.
A recent report by the Bulawayo City Council’s general purposes committee shows that the government wanted to hijack the recruitment exercise through the Local Government ministry, but the proposal was shot down, amid fears it would have been used for electioneering ahead of the 2018 elections.
“Councillor Collet Ndlovu explained that the general purposes committee had agonised on this matter at its last meeting and the general view after debate had been to let the recruitment process be done by council officials.
“Councillor Siboniso Khumalo argued that councillors lived among residents in their respective wards and, as such, they were more familiar with the problems besetting individual families in their areas. They were, therefore, better positioned to assess and recommend vulnerable/deserving families and individuals within their wards,” the council report read in part.
“This was not done along political lines, but residents were looked at as residents without reference to political affiliation. They (councillors), however, feared that the enquiry from the provincial administrator’s office on this matter was politically-motivated.
“Those said to have complained on this matter were seemingly pushing a hidden agenda. The aim of which was to systematically strip councillors of their powers.”
There have been several reports of government officials hijacking various projects or community initiatives for political gain.
In rural areas, Zanu PF stands accused of hijacking, for example, the food aid distribution exercise to force opposition supporters to join the ruling party, and councillors feared a repeat in Bulawayo should the Local Government ministry be allowed to charge of the recruitment of community working groups.
“Councillor James Sithole said council was doing a good job on the engagement of community groups and there was no need to be embarrassed or apologetic about this as the programme was transparent.
“It was the only council in the country to have tackled such projects through community involvement, and had received all round commendation for its efforts in this regard. After further debate it was resolved that the recruitment of community groups be done administratively and details thereof be left to the office of the town clerk,” the report said.