BY STEPHEN CHADENGA
GWERU residents associations have slammed mayor Josiah Makombe’s plans to move into the mayoral mansion despite suggestions that the house be turned into a money-spinning venture.
Addressing journalists last week, Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association director Cornelia Selipiwe accused city fathers of “having appetite” for lavish lifestyles at the expense of ratepayers.
“It is unfortunate that we requested for a reduction in rates and council refused, yet we have a sweet-talking mayor who now wants to move into the mayoral mansion,” Selipiwe said.
“Besides driving in a Toyota Prado which was purchased for former town clerk (Elizabeth Gwatipedza), he now wants the mansion. The city fathers want to enjoy at our (residents) expense, yet they don’t want to slash rates.”
Gweru United Progressive Residents and Ratepayers Development Association director David Chikore weighed in, saying the mayor should address residents’ concerns and desist from leading an expensive life.
“We have reports that the mayor now intends to move into the mayoral mansion and we are surprised that he has suddenly developed this propensity for a lavish lifestyle,” he said.
Contacted for comment, Makombe was non-committal over the issue.
“I have no comment to that,” he said. “I will not comment on personal issues.”
Two years ago, council announced plans to turn the mayoral mansion into a lodge in a bid to boost revenue for the cash-strapped local authority.
To date, the proposal has not materialised amid reports that officials at Town House failed to reach consensus over the issue.
Council made the resolution to turn the mansion, which has been lying idle since the departure of then mayor Sesel Zvidzai in 2008, into a lodge a few years ago, but the project stalled after there were proposals for Gwatipedza to use it as her official residence.
The move to turn the upmarket property into the town clerk’s residence was, however, resisted by residents and council had to abandon it.
In 2016, the Judicial Service Commission approached council requesting to lease the building and use it as the seat for High Court sessions, but residents objected, arguing that council would not benefit from such a deal.
The mayoral mansion is one white elephant that Gweru has for years been urged to exploit, as the city’s coffers are running dry due to dwindling income streams.
At one point, council tried to lease out the property for US$3 000 per month, but found no takers.
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