THE Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association (BPRA) has petitioned incoming councillors to declare their assets to prevent unbridled corruption as witnessed in the previous council.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
Former Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere was at one time forced to suspend a number of councillors, including then deputy mayor Gift Banda, over alleged corruption and abuse of office.
The Affirmative Action Group (AAG) even approached the Constitutional Court seeking the dissolution of the MDC-T-led Bulawayo Council over alleged widespread corruption, abuse of office and maladministration charges.
In the petition demanding the declaration of assets dated September 4, BPRA acting co-ordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu said the residents could not relive the shocking levels of abuse of office and corruption this term.
He said this was in line with section 198 of the Constitution, which stipulates that senior public officials should declare their assets, income and financial interest as a matter of principle.
“Once such a declaration is made, registers of interest should then be kept and these should be made publicly accessible. The registers of interest should then be updated annually as and when changes in your assets occur and these shall be publicly accessible.
“BPRA believes such a step shall be a game-changer in the fight against corruption and that you can be Bulawayo’s number one anti-corruption champion,” Ndlovu wrote.
“Assets and interest registers are not a new practice, as they have been implemented in countries such as South Africa and Rwanda. BPRA is willing to second its expertise to help council develop and maintain such a register.”
It would be a first if the incoming councillors declare their assets as many have been known to develop a propensity to amass wealth once elected into office, pushing them to corruptly award themselves tender deals, among others, to finance their lavish lifestyles.
Banda, who is MDC Alliance’s Bulawayo provincial chairperson, said the declaration of assets was a necessary tool to forge a culture of transparency and to eradicate corruption.
The MDC Alliance controls the Bulawayo City Council.
“We always stand guided by the party, but on a personal level, I think this would be a good idea,” he said.
“Anything that fosters transparency is very good. Anything that fosters a culture of transparency must be welcomed by all.”