BULAWAYO City Council has expressed reservations over expending resources to a project spearheaded by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa to transform a refugee centre at Chambuta in Chiredzi into a rehabilitation facility for street kids.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
Government first announced plans to transform the refugee centre into a facility for children in 2015, but the project failed to take-off.
Auxillia, through her Angel of Hope Foundation and the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare ministry, is now spearheading the project.
Latest council minutes show that the ministry on October 22 sent an SOS to the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) seeking material and financial support to ensure the project becomes a success, but councillors turned down the request.
“Discussion ensued and councillor Mlandu Ncube was concerned that Bulawayo had a lot of responsibilities that it was failing to fulfil. Council was facing a lot of financial challenges. He was against the idea to pledge assistance to renovate the home,” the council minutes read in part.
“Council could only assist in terms of painting the block. Alderman Siboniso Khumalo shared the same sentiments with Ncube, saying that in Bulawayo there were homes which council was failing to assist as well as other service delivery responsibilities it could not meet.”
Bulawayo street kids are housed at Emthunzini Wethemba, but the facility faces viability challenges, forcing the homeless to escape back to the streets.
Town clerk Christopher Dube, however, argued that council had a responsibility to pledge assistance in the spirit of the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe.
“It was, therefore, resolved to recommend that the council be granted authority to pledge assistance in the form of painting the block that it adopted at Chambuta Children’s Home.”
In its SOS letter, the ministry said it was mandated under the Children’s Act (Chapter 5:06) to care for and protect the homeless through the Department of Social Welfare.
“It is in this light that all urban councils are being called upon to commit their resources towards renovations and future maintenance of Chambuta Children’s home to ensure sustainability of the project,” the ministry wrote to the BCC.
“Please note that your commitment in the project will leave its mark in improving the lives of this vulnerable group from our communities taking into cognisance the fact that the children currently housed at the institution had been living and working on the streets of all urban centres countrywide.”