BULAWAYO City Council last month refused to provide free fire-fighting services at the Zanu PF annual conference held at Esigodini, Matabeleland South demanding that the ruling party pays for the service, Southern Eye has learnt.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
This came after Zanu PF wrote to council requesting it to freely offer its fire tender to be on standby for the duration of the conference held from December 11 to 16, but the local authority wrote back saying they would only provide such free service for the few hours President Emmerson Mnangagwa was at the venue.
According to a general purposes committee report seen by Southern Eye, city fathers were of the view that providing free fire tender services was not feasible as the conference was not a national event, but a party one.
The report adds that Zanu PF was given a quotation of $101 000 inclusive of transport for the duration of the event, but the ruling party “felt that was too exorbitant”, forcing the local authority to “bend the tariff structure”.
“Council’s view was that the tender should be availed only when the President was present, and not cover the whole conference. The town clerk (Christopher Dube) then considered the figures for only one day and had to bend the tariff structure so as to accommodate the situation, because council staff could not be called from leave for such an event,” the report read.
The city fathers finally agreed to provide standby fire tender services at a cost of $13 378,20 for the Zanu PF conference despite concerns by some councillors that the charges should not have been lowered.
“The deputy mayor (Tinashe Kambarami) also raised concern over the issue. He, however, felt that this was a party programme and the President was attending as president of a political party and not President of the country,”the report reads.
“Bulawayo City Council could not afford to provide a free service to any political party. Council was facing a lot of challenges and there was, therefore, a need to avoid mismanagement. Council was being forced to adjust tariffs not out of any justification, but because of threats.”
It adds: “He (Kambarami) further mentioned that there were low chances of getting paid. There was need to serve the city first and payment should be done upfront. He also sought clarification on the number of vehicles to be used and how this would affect service delivery in the city.”