BY SILAS NKALA
BULAWAYO City Council has come under pressure to publish a list of its properties to enhance transparency and accountability.
The call by civic society group Habakkuk Trust came in the wake of reports that the city recently proposed to pamper mayor Solomon Mguni with a mansion located in the leafy suburb of Burnside following a security breach at his Nkulumane house recently.
There have also been new revelations that council plans to craft an accommodation policy for its staff, and civic society groups have demanded transparency on the issue.
The local authority owns a number of residential flats such as Parthhurst, Tregene, Howard and Coles Court and many other properties in the city, which should actually be council’s cash cow.
Habakkuk Trust chief executive officer Dumisani Nkomo yesterday called on the city council to publish all the properties it owns, indicating individuals or entities occupying the properties.
“This list must include any councillors or employees. As a citizen, I find it anomalous that council is a player and referee in this process. It is a fact that councillors and employees of council have access to information about leases and properties which ordinary citizens such as me do not have,” he said.
“In terms of the constitutional right to access to information in the public interest, the council must make this information available in the public interest and those that are conflicted must recuse themselves.
“They could be generating income for the city and also council employees and councillors may have an unfair advantage in accessing leased properties.”
Nkomo said council should come up with a comprehensive inventory of all its properties, their current value, leases and lease fees, adding that Bulawayo citizens had been demanding for that information for the past five years.
Bulawayo residents have also called on the local authority to urgently reduce the housing waiting list, whose backlog has soared to over 100 000.
BCC has started virtual consultations on its master plan development programme in line with the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act.
The current consultations came after the city council last year conducted door-to-door surveys to gather input from residents in preparation for a local development plan.
Under the proposal, Bulawayo will have an integrated master plan, strategic plan and waste and water master plans, funded by donor agencies such as the United Nations and the United States Agency for International Development.
- Follow Silas on Twitter @silasnkala