RDC execs gobble millions on 2-day workshop

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Dr. I. Matsilele

BY REX MPHISA

SENIOR Rural District Council (RDC) executives last week blew over $10 million at a two-day workshop in Bulawayo which was organised by the Association of Rural District Councils.

The meeting, dubbed the Inaugural Rural District Council’s Planners Forum and Spatial Planning Conference was held on April 6 and 7, and delegates checked in at a hotel in Bulawayo on April 5.

Each local authority had two officials taking part, after forking out $180 000 for each executive on full board, while those that were not on full board paid $60 000.

The organisers of the conference were Netsai Makoni and Stableck Savere.

They refused to disclose the exact number of delegates to Southern Eye, but the participants were drawn from the country’s 59 administrative districts.

“I am eating. I will come back to you,” Makoni told Southern Eye when contacted for comment.

Savere last Thursday asked for written questions via WhatsApp, but by yesterday, he still had not responded to them.

Makoni and Savere also refused to share the contacts of the convener of the conference, who was identified as Dr Matsilele.

A letter dated March 10, 2022 signed by Matsilele said the participants were expected to deposit $180 000 per delegate into a provided bank account.

“Full board conference package which includes free for accommodation on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis, hall usage, facilitators fees (travel and accommodation), public address system, lunch and drink, conference room stationery, projector, welcome tea, morning and afternoon teas, cordials, conference apparel and networking dinner is $180 000 per delegate while conference with own stationery, projector, welcome tea, morning and afternoon conferencing teas, cordials, conference apparel and networking dinner is $60 000 per delegate,” the letter read.

The letter stated that the conference was an inaugural spatial planning and planners forum conference, adding that it would reflect on pertinent spatial planning issues such as delays in approval of layout plans, and the planning conflict with the Lands ministry, among others.

However, RDC workers feel that given the difficult economic situation in the country, such luxurious conferences are uncalled for.

“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this conference should have been held online. Apart from conference costs, there are fuel costs and travel allowances for about 118 people,” an RDC employee said.

He said RDCs were struggling to provide services due to cashflow problems, hence the conference costs were unnecessary.

Spatial planning is mostly recognised as a public sector function. Its purpose is to influence future spatial distribution of activities.

It also aims to co-ordinate and improve the impacts of other sectoral policies on land use, in order to achieve a more even distribution of economic development within a given territory than would otherwise be created by market forces.

“It is an important aspect of planning, but that does not mean it cannot be done online via ZOOM,” the RDC worker said.

Most RDCs in the country are struggling to provide basic services to residents countrywide.

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