MDC-T legislator blasts Bulawayo industrialists for boycotting meetings

MDC-T Proportional Representation legislator Ruth Labode has blasted Bulawayo’a captains of industry for snubbing important policy dialogues and law-making seminars conducted in the city only to turn around and complain that the environment in the country was not conducive for their operations.

BY SILAS NKALA

Labode was contributing during the Alpha Media Holdings AMH Conversation meeting in Bulawayo on Friday. Top members of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC), Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) and Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz)were conspicuous by their absence at the meeting, sending negative signals that they were not supportice of plans to revive the city’s industries.

“I am a resident of Bulawayo, I am also one of the members of Parliament. I have attended these meetings in Harare and I have seen how important they are. Here we have members of the CZI can’t they mobilise their members for presentation. We have ZNCC where are they. We have so many organisations that must actually be mobilising, why are they not here?,” she said.

“The Bill on corporate governance came to Bulawayo, it was so badly attended, and this bill is not for the ordinary person on the street, it’s for the elite people here, it’s for the industrialists to talk about it and you left it to the vendors to discuss it which means Bulawayo did not have an input to that Bill.”

Labode said there was a Bill on public health coming to Bulawayo and she knows that some of these elites say it does not concern them. She said it is prudent for them to participate in the discussion on the Bill to have an input.

“We have issues in Bulawayo and we need to introspect and discuss these issues,” she said.

Labode also raised concerns over the Urban Councils Act which protects officials from the poorly performing top local authorities from being fired by authorities without the approval of the Local Government minister.

She said this had resulted in poor service delivery as the officials were protected by the Act.

Responding to her concerns, Bulawayo acting town clerk Sikhangele Zhou said it was interesting that the remarks came from the legislator as it was not council which made the Act, but Parliament which has also power to amend it.

“Whenever to employ council deputy director upwards the council recommends to the local government board, similarly when we discharge those people council has to recommend to the Local Government Board, if the Local Government Board does not consent, we cannot fire that official just like we can not employ them without the board’s consent. For the directors of health services a further requirement is sought from the concerned Minister of Health,” Zhou said.

She said it was for everyone to see if this Act worked for their service delivery or not. However Labode later said it was not for the legislators to instigate the change of the Act, but activists and citizens may petition Parliament and this would lead to a debate around the Act which might lead to its change if possible.

She said council associations must agitate for the change of that Act and the legislators would take it up from there.

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