By NQOBANI NDLOVU
THE majority of Bulawayo councillors have refused to declare their assets and interests, notwithstanding pressure from residents, with mayor Solomon Mguni calling the move “a voluntary exercise”.
Only two councillors Rodney Jele (ward 22) and Arnold Batirai (ward 24) declared their assets and interests at a community meeting held in Nkulumane late last year, while the majority have resisted the move.
Councillors have been under pressure to declare assets after the previous councillors faced accusations of corruptly amassing several stands, and wealth during their five-year term.
“Remember that is voluntary. We cannot be told by residents (to declare assets) who have some interests,” Mguni told Southern Eye.
“We have not passed a policy to say every councillor must do this and neither has government through the parent ministry done that. There were few pressure groups and political parties which said councillors must declare assets, but it is neither government nor council policy.”
The Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) maintained that councillors must declare assets in line with section 198 of the Constitution, which stipulates that senior public officials should declare their assets, income and financial interests as a matter of principle.
BPRA has also revealed plans to compile a register of all declared councillor assets that will be updated yearly and open for inspection from the public to track any possibility of illegal wealth accumulation.
Mguni added: “The challenge is that this thing is driven by NGOs some of whom were into politics. It’s a noble idea if done well and guided by policy, but it becomes problematic when you have people with hidden agendas. We are waiting for such a time when government introduces such a policy.”
Residents associations have, on several occasions, raised a red flag on corruption involving councillors. This has seen the Local Government ministry wielding the axe on alleged corrupt councils and appointing commissions in their place.