Residents' Voices - Issue 58

War veterans threaten to close company
Drill Way Company at Belmont was yesterday (25 August 2011) approached by 12 war veterans threatening to take over the company. The war veterans presented an indigenisation form and requested the company CEO to fill it. The war veterans are said to have told a Mr. Williams who co-owns the firm to fill the form as he is not a Zimbabwean national by virtue of being white. Mr. Williams advised the war veterans to come back this morning for a meeting in the presence of the company lawyers and his business partner. When departing the war veterans threatened that if the company management does not fill the form and hand over the company they will bring their own employees to work in the company and eject the current workforce. This comes at a time when BPRA has been calling for restoration of industries in the city so that masses are employed but disappointingly some individuals are taking advantage of flawed government policies to forcefully and unduly take over companies.
Residents demand reimbursements from ZESA
Bulawayo residents who contributed to the buying of transformers when the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) was cash strapped and could not replace vandalised transformers are demanding reimbursements. According to residents, it was the duty of ZESA to replace damaged transformers not that of residents. Residents however were forced to contribute to the replacing of damaged transformers in their areas because they were desperate to have electricity in their homes. At the time, ZESA was having difficulty responding to faults as thieves were siphoning oil off transformers, leading to dozens of households losing access to electricity. The Parastatal was having difficulty accessing foreign currency to replace the transformers as the country was still using the Zimbabwe dollar which was faring badly and losing value on a daily basis. 
Water cuts continue to irk residents
Residents of Entumbane suburb have expressed dismay with the operations of the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) after they woke up to find their taps dry this morning (26 August 2011). This is despite the fact that BCC is not engaged in any official water shedding programmes at the moment. It could however not be ascertained whether the disruption of water supplies was caused by a burst water pipe or whether it was a deliberate water cut. However residents argued that even if it was a genuine fault, it was a sign of the failure of the city council to maintain its water network. Residents said it was time the city fathers took bolder steps to revamp the city’s water networks and bring a lasting solution to Bulawayo’s water woes.  
Residents request audit
Bulawayo residents have requested the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to publish a list of all the properties that it owns across the city. Residents said this would enable residents to know the council’s revenue base and thus enable them to ascertain whether or not the council has enough funds for service provision. The request was made after council officials that were addressing residents at Mgiqika Primary School in Nketa 9 (ward 25) on Sunday 21 August 2011 said BCC was not receiving all its revenue because people using its premises are not paying up as expected. Residents asserted that the council was failing to collect its debts from its business partners and was now coming hard on residents by disconnecting water supplies for residents with debts charging rates that most residents cannot afford. The council’s finance director alleged that most people procured their business premises from the municipality using 99 year leases as a result they pay very low rentals that do not contribute much to the city coffers. BPRA, in a bid to promote accountability and transparency, supports the idea of publicizing council property as this will make known BCC’s revenue base.

BPRA is set to host a Service Delivery Conference under the theme The Right to Know. The conference will be held on Sunday 11 September 2011 at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) Hall 2 from 8am to 430pm. The main objective of the conference is to promote local democracy through transparency and accountability in service delivery. The conference shall provide a platform for residents to engage with officials from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), the Bulawayo City Council (BCC), Tel-One and the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA).

Residents input into council budget

Nketa 9 residents, on Sunday 21 August 2011 at a meeting held at Mgiqika Primary School, notified city council officials including the Councillor, Edward Ndlovu, and Member of Parliament, Seiso Moyo, issues they wanted to be prioritised in the council budget. The council officials initially briefed residents of the previous budget and went on to request residents to list the number of things they wanted the next budget to focus on. According to residents, the first port of call for the city council should be ensuring that residents get clean water and that the city council stops disconnecting water as most people cannot afford to entirely clear their debts. Women that attended the meeting seemed particularly concerned about the road that leads to the clinic as they said that the potholes made it difficult for home-based caregivers to push patients on wheel chairs to the clinic. Thus they requested that the city council must repair the roads as a matter of urgency as well. Ward 25 residents have raised concern over the absence of a youth center or any other recreational facility specifically for children and youths. It was suggested that the city council could take advantage of a playground to the north of Mgiqika Primary School. They added that the playing field was far from the tavern so children will not be exposed to any foul behaviors. Residents made it clear that these were the most important issues for them although there are other matters that need attention as well.

BCC gives feedback to Nkulumane residents

The Mayor and ward 22 Councilor, Thaba P. Moyo, updated residents on the Bulawayo City Council’s activities at Nkulumane Hall on Sunday 21 August at a meeting organized by the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) ward structure. The Mayor informed residents about the status of service delivery in Bulawayo. He reported that the city council was fixing badly damaged roads ahead of the rainy season. The Mayor cited that Kami road, extending from the Nkulumane Shopping Complex towards Pumula, was under refurbishment as it is one of the worst main roads in the city as it is marred by potholes. He also announced that BCC had procured 68 cars, three ambulances and is still to buy three more and ten refuse collection trucks. Residents were very pleased to hear that all vendors will be required to register and that no authorities will be chasing them off their vending premises for whatever reason. The city council is also said to have procured sewerage equipment so residents can now be assured of a rapid response within 4 hours when there are burst or blocked of sewerage pipes. It was also reported that the city council has allocated six doctors in council clinics around the city including one dentist in Pelandaba. In addition to measures being taken to resuscitate the state of health in the city, the city council has engaged NGOs one of which has donated medication to some council clinics while another replaced old sewer pipes. With regards to public lighting, Mayor Moyo said Bulawayo is on 98% capacity in terms of lighting although BCC is currently looking for suppliers of tower light parts to refurbish the few that are not in good condition. 

Residents' Voices - Issue 57

Registering to vote tedious
The Registrar general’s office has been accused of making the process of registering to vote tedious thus compromising the democratic process in the country. The electorate has said that the process of registering should not be cumbersome; instead officials should be professional and duteous. Some residents have complained that they spend hours queuing only to be sent away without being attended to for one reason or another. Others have suggested that the government should embark on mobile voter registration projects like the ones where they were issuing national identity documents and moved across the whole country to ensure that they reach every citizen.

 School levies unjustified
Parents and guardians with children attending Hillside Junior and Henry Low Primary Schools have passed complaints over the increase of the schools’ levies. One guardian with a grandchild at Hillside Junior School said that early this year the schools increased its levy from $20 to $46 while the fees remained at $10. The move was seen by most as aimed at incorporating $20 that goes towards the teachers’ incentives. Affected parents and guardians said that $46 levy comprises of $6 that goes towards sports, teachers’ incentive of $20 and another $20 for the school levy. Parents have said that the teachers’ incentive cannot take up almost 50% of the levy paid for each pupil at the school. Meanwhile, parents with children at Henry Low Primary School said they are appalled by the fact that children whose fees or levies are not fully paid do not receive reports at the end of the school term and the parents are not attended to on consultation day. The parents and guardians also said that along with the levy pegged at $20 and $10 fees they also have to pay $5 every month for each pupil. Residents have argued that these levies are unjustified especially considering most people earn salaries that are below the poverty datum line while most are unemployed but cannot neglect their children right to education. Headmasters and school development committees have been urged to consider the plight of residents when stipulating fees.

BPRA to hold Service Delivery Conference
BPRA is set to host a Service Delivery Conference under the theme The Right to Know. The conference will be held on Sunday 11 September 2011 at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) Hall 2 from 8am to 430pm. The main objective of the conference is to promote local democracy through transparency and accountability in service delivery. The conference, which shall bring together 2 000 residents from the 29 wards of the city of Bulawayo shall provide a platform for residents to engage with officials from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), the Bulawayo City Council (BCC), Tel-One and the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA).
These officials are expected to report to the residents on what their institutions are doing to improve their services and the livelihood of Bulawayo residents, while the residents will also be given an opportunity to ask questions during plenary sessions.

Residents engage ZESA

In the face of high tariffs charged by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), Nketa residents, under the auspices of the area’s Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) Ward 25 Committee have come up with an innovative way to avoid being disconnected. The residents have mobilized themselves into four groups from the four squares in the area, namely Esporweni, Hanyani, Mthwakazi and Mgiqika to pay their electricity bills. The strategy is to collectively pay bills so that each family in each square only pays a minimum of $20. Thus for example one family can pay US$20, another $US30 and another US$50. At the end of the day the total is collected and paid at the same time, in a deal that means electricity is not disconnected from any households in the area with outstanding debts. ZESA apparently approves of the plan because it ensures that a large chunk of money is dropped into its coffers in one go. Receipts are given individually as usual and records of what individual households owe the parastal are not lost. This month, 71 households from Esporweni square put together $1140, while those from Mthwakazi square managed to collect $500 and $1100 was collected from Mgiqika square. Residents are working on creating relations with ZESA and coming up with measures of ensuring that every month an increasing number of residents contribute towards clearing their debt. 

Empowerment of locals should be a priority

At a time when unemployment is rife, residents have encouraged business people to empower locals living in areas around their business premises by giving them preference when hiring workers. Residents said this could go a long way in giving the youth in the city something to do in light of the high unemployment in the country. The residents urged business people to hire locals to handle especially menial jobs that do not require expertise such as clearing land prior to construction. In the past, people in Bulawayo have complained that business owners overlook them when hiring staff, preferring people from outside the city, which has fuelled allegations of nepotism among business owners. 

Residents bemoan the health sector

The level of grime at state hospitals has reached an alarming level with residents in Bulawayo alleging that hospitals in the city are now infested with rodents that feed on corpses in mortuaries. It came to light that the mortuaries are a breeding ground for rodents as the morgues are largely dysfunctional due to rampant power cuts and unavailability of supplementary sources of electricity like generators and solar panels. Recently, a Bulawayo man who had been admitted at Mpilo Referral Hospital died after having reported that rodents had been eating away his right arm. It is still unclear as to whether the man died from the bites or the ailment that brought him into the hospital in the first place. However, the man’s family is appalled by the situation and calling on the authorities to restore the health sector to its previous status of being one of the best in the region.

Ward 1 residents to work on retaining Bulawayo’s standards

Residents from Ward 1 will this evening be awarded an opportunity to engage various stakeholders in a meeting that is expected to craft a way forward with regards to improving the Bulawayo City Centre. According to Ward 1 Councillor, Edward Manning, guests expected to address residents are Eric Bloch, an economist, Joseph James and Kucaca Phulu, lawyers, Dumisani Nkomo, the Chief Executive Officer of Habakkuk Trust and representatives from the rent board. The guests will address issues such as the crime rate, public lighting, uninhabited blocks, potholes and rental fees. Meanwhile the Ward 1 Councillor, Edward Manning, also intends on facilitating the selection of a committee made up of 20 who will work with him in ensuring and monitoring progress in the uplifting of Bulawayo’s Central Business District. The meeting will be held today (Friday 12 August 2011) from 5 to 7pm at the Small City Hall.