THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) says it is considering a request by MDC-T leader, Nelson Chamisa to exempt the Joshua Nkomo Museum from paying rates in honour of the late Father Zimbabwe.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
The museum is located at Nkomo’s Matsheumhlophe residence. The late Vice-President succumbed to prostate cancer in July 1999.
Chamisa made the request following his visit to the museum on Saturday, shortly before his MDC Alliance rally at White City Stadium. He asked the MDC-T-led council “to ensure that the museum is upgraded to a level of a strategic national institution that does not have to pay rates to the local authority”.
“The Nkomo brand is a towering brand that must be accorded veneration by all of us, especially the local authority that we control. Sparing such an institution the obligation to pay rates will be the city’s own humble way of paying tribute to the mammoth and indefatigable national brand that was Joshua Nkomo,” he said.
Bulawayo deputy mayor, Gift Banda, who doubles as MDC-T provincial chairperson, told Southern Eye yesterday the local authority would consider the proposal as soon as the Joshua Nkomo Foundation formally submits the request.
“We are waiting and if they make an application, we will indeed consider the request. We cannot consider (the request) without the foundation also putting up an application for such. Nkomo fought for Zimbabwe, and as a party, we recognise his contributions before and after independence,” he said.
Banda added: “We recognise that, as a party, and as Bulawayo in general, we are eating the fruits of his revolutionary struggle, and as such, it is paramount importance that we look into this. It has been an oversight on our part not to look into it and exempt the foundation from paying rates.”
Joshua Nkomo Foundation chief executive officer Jabulani Hadebe, however, claimed that they once submitted the request and it was turned down by the local authority.
“We did apply last year, but without success. We hope the council will this time around look into our application, which we intend, re-sending. We will be honoured if the city fathers grant us this request,” Hadebe said.
Nkomo’s family last year also approached the council, seeking rates exemptions at two other family-run businesses – Blue Lagoon and Anzac Investments – which were facing collapse, but the local authority turned down the request, arguing that it would set a bad precedent in the city.