BY SILAS NKALA
BULAWAYO City Council has resubmitted plans to build a $25 million mayoral mansion despite claiming to have put the project on hold citing financial constraints.
Construction of the mansion for mayor Solomon Mguni has stirred controversy as it was not budgeted for with residents complaining that the project was not a priority, especially at a time council was falling short on the service delivery front.
MDC-T chief whip, Silas Chigora in a statement last week said council had no budget to build a mayoral house.
But a leaked latest council document signed by town Clerk Christopher Dube directed to the mayor and councillors dated August 4 states that the mayoral house issue has been submitted for consideration at the next full council meeting.
“It will be recalled that council on 7/04/2021 resolved that its house at Hornung Golf Clup be turned into mayoral accommodation and security be provided to the property and its occupants,” Dube wrote.
“Upon inspection of the property, it was noted that some renovations needed to be done before the occupation. Director of housing and community services (Dictor Khumalo) has detailed scope of works and estimated costs.”
Dube said works expected to be done at the property for it to meet occupation standards would cost US$145 364, 70 with the boundary wall having the highest cost at US$103 571, 55, main house renovation at US$15 150, 13, guard room at US$10 624, 46 and a double garage at US$17 018,55.
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Dube said a council committee recommended the option of building a house at a council stand in Selbourne Park.
“The estimated building cost of a new house was slightly higher than the renovation costs. It was noted that the council could utilise its Building branch staff to conduct the special project,” he said.
“ The team further recommended that additional temporary contract staff of 300 workers distributed among builders, bricklayers, labourers, carpenters etc, be procured to assist in ensuring that the deadline is met.
“Further assistance be obtained from the engineering services department inclusive of requisite machinery such as front end loaders, caterpillars etc, and staff. The detailed figures and bill of quantities be finalised.”
Dube wrote that it was also noted that a total of $25 million be viremented from vote 0084/12244 ($16 200 000 and 0084/12245 ($8 800 000 to cater for building costs for the Mayoral Mansion in Selbourne park.
However, Chigora in a statement during the week had refuted claims that the local authority had set aside US$200 000 to construct Mguni’s lodgings.
The Nelson Chamisa led MDC Alliance Bulawayo provincial executive has dissociated itself from the council committee resolution to build an unbudgeted for the $25 million mansion for Mguni describing the move as extravagance and insensitive to the ratepayers struggling with poor service delivery.
Provincial spokesperson Swithern Chirowodza said Bulawayo residents were poised to pay at least US$5 million in unbudgeted expenditure once the committee’s resolutions are adopted.
“We aver that the opportunity cost of a mayoral mansion is that of stopping raw sewage from flowing into 50 Old Magwegwe houses,” Chirowodza.
“The US$5m can go a long way in meeting the many needs of Bulawayo residents particularly access to water and working sewer systems.”