Press Release - BPRA to host think tank

 Date:              28 February 2012
Contact:         Rodrick Fayayo
                        Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA)

BPRA to Host Think Tank on Alternative Revenue Sources for Local Authorities

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) will on Wednesday 29 February 2012 host a think tank meeting to discuss alternative means for the local authority to generate revenue. The meeting will be held at the Unlimited Connect Centre (UCC) in the Central Business District (CBD) from 1400hrs to 1700hrs. The topic for the think tank will be “Alternative Funding Sources for Local Authorities: The Case of Bulawayo.” The think tank will bring together experts including Dr Eric Bloch, Bulawayo City Council (BCC) leaders, the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) under the aegis of the National University of Science and Technology and development scholars from Lupane State University to discuss strategies that local authorities can utilise to raise revenue without overburdening residents, most of whom are earning salaries below the poverty datum line or unemployed.

BPRA has noted that despite the fact that Bulawayo is one of the best run cities in the country and the region at large, service delivery provision by the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has deteriorated over the past ten years due to difficulties in raising revenue to finance operations. Consequently, Bulawayo residents have found themselves in a quandary, faced on one hand by declining service delivery standards and on the other by increasing tariffs as the local authority attempts to improve revenue flows.

BPRA is thus holding the think tank to discuss alternative strategies to raise revenue for the local authority and mechanisms to revitalise current revenue collection methods in an effort to ease the burden on residents who face high rates in comparison to their incomes, and also in an effort to contribute to the improvement of service delivery in the city. BPRA believes that it is the duty of stakeholders such as residents associations, civil societies organisations and the corporate sector to advise local authorities on alternative methods of raising revenues.

The objectives of the think tank are:
·         To discuss and deliberate alternative strategies and systems for the local authority revenue streams
·         To map out the way forward on alternative funding strategies for the ailing local authority
·         To produce a working document for action by the local authority
·         To promote awareness and increase understanding of the administration and operations of the local authority
·         To build a strategic working relationship between BCC and relevant stakeholders
·         To foster participatory approaches to development issues, policy formulation and implementation towards human rights based service delivery

Mr Rodrick Fayayo
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA)

Alternative sources of power needed at clinics

As part of the means of resuscitating the health sector, residents request that the local authority ensure that there are alternative sources of power at all council clinics. The city council should prioritise the provision of power generators or solar panels so that power cuts will not inconvenience services provided at public clinics. The clinics serve the poorest members of society. People that cannot afford private hospitals and clinics visit these thus it is important for the institutions to be up to standard. Lack of power can lead to reckless loss of life and this is avoidable. BPRA acknowledges that every resident has a right to health care facilities and each person should be served adequately.

Traffic police mount unwarranted roadblocks

Motorists have expressed disapproval of unnecessary roadblocks mounted by traffic police officers in the city centre. It is alleged that at robot controlled intersections in the city centre traffic police officers stand in groups of four to six and flag down cars. Private taxi operators said that the police abruptly stop cars and find an offence and in some instances the police are said to solicit for bribes in order not to issue tickets to the offending motorists. The taxi operators said that the police do not place any signs to notify drivers of the roadblocks but jump in front of targeted cars, giving the impression that they are witch-hunting. While BPRA commends work done by the police force in maintain order in communities and on the road it is also concerned that the uniformed officials are driven by the need to pursue their corrupt tendencies. BPRA has convened meetings where residents have said that they can no longer place their trust in the police force as the uniformed officials are known for corrupt tendencies. This has forced many communities to introduce neighbourhood watch committees, made up of volunteering residents, to police their crime prone residential areas.

BPRA weekend activities (25-26 February 2012)

In a bid to contribute towards a culture of peace and tolerance in communities, BPRA shall be holding peace rallies dubbed Township Peace Rallies. These meetings shall be addressed by representatives from ZANU PF, ZAPU, MDC T and MDC. The thrust of the meeting is to inculcate a culture of dialogue and engagement among residents belonging to different political parties. The meetings emphasise the battle of the minds instead of the battle of the fists. Representatives of JOMIC have also been invited. Below is the schedule of meetings.
25 February 2012
9am – 1pm
Nketa Hall
25 February 2012
2pm – 5pm
Pumula Hall
26 February 2012
9am – 1pm
Stanley Hall

BPRA Position on administration of BEAM

Bulawayo residents and other stakeholders in the country at large have dismissed the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) as unable to cater for the needs of disadvantaged children who need assistance due to corruption, lack of transparency and politicisation in the selection of beneficiaries. BEAM has also been deemed ineffective due to inadequate funding resulting in thousands of orphans and children from poor families failing to access basic education, which is a right for every child. In Bulawayo for instance, according to the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, in a presentation to a European Union delegation in early February 2012 there are 27 000 orphaned and vulnerable children, with only 10 000 benefiting from BEAM. In Matabeleland South, there are 70 000 orphaned and vulnerable children with 40 000 benefiting from BEAM while in Matabeleland North there are 72 000 vulnerable and orphaned children, with a mere 5000 children getting assistance. It is clear therefore that the government, through the Ministry of labour and Social Welfare should take more measures to afford basic education to vulnerable children.

Unavailability of information on who the beneficiaries of BEAM means that there is leeway for inequitable distribution of the funds to deserving people among the provinces. The scarcity of information on the criteria for choosing beneficiaries and the failure of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to publish names of beneficiaries also means that there is leeway for corruption in the implementation of the programme. As long as there is no transparency in the implementation of the fund, there can never be certainty that BEAM is benefitting people who truly need assistance. Neither can it be ascertained whether or not the country’s provinces are benefiting equally and/or equitably from the programme. It is also possible for children who do not really need BEAM assistance to benefit from the programme. For instance, due to poor screening methods, orphaned children who have guardians who earn enough to put them through school can benefit from the fund at the expense of children from poor household whose parents or guardians cannot afford to send them to school.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) thus recommends that:

·         The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture should publish the names, addresses and provinces of beneficiaries of BEAM to ensure transparency in the selection of beneficiaries for the programme.

·        The government should ensure that all the country’s ten provinces benefit from BEAM in an equitable manner based on the level of need for assistance. This would ensure that regions that are normally marginalised such as Matabeleland North and South and Bulawayo adequately benefit from BEAM.

·         The government should make known its current criterion and method for selecting beneficiaries of the fund. The scarcity of information on this leaves room for political cronyism and corruption in the selection of beneficiaries.

·         The government should allocate more funds for BEAM to ensure that a greater number of orphans and vulnerable children get assistance with their education. This is imperative because of increased poverty in the country due to high unemployment, low remuneration levels and an increase in the numbers of orphans due to HIV/AIDS.

·         There should be a clear monitoring and evaluation mechanism to ensure accountability and transparency in the selection of BEAM beneficiaries and to ensure that money allocated by treasury for BEAM reaches the beneficiaries. In line with this, a platform should be created for residents to participate in the monitoring of the implementation of BEAM. 

Council should control parasites

Residents are calling on the city council to resume parasite control in residential areas as residential areas are becoming infested with rodents, mosquitoes and other insects. Residents also emphasised the need for the city council to spray water logged areas to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes and other parasites that have the potential of bringing diseases. Residents also raised the issue of unclean drainages that harbour insects and parasites affecting the wellbeing of residents. While the city council has previously said it has inadequate funding to undergo normal spraying exercises, BPRA believes that the city council should fulfil its mandate of ensuring a healthy environment in Bulawayo. The city council is thus urged to resume pest control and clean out drainages.

Residents request adequate health care facilities

Emganwini, Cowdray Park and Matsheumhlophe residents have expressed dismay at the failure of the authorities to construct clinics in their respective areas. The residents requested adequate and fully functional health care facilities. In 2010 Matsheumhlophe residents attended a ceremony that was graced by government and local authority officials, which was held to declare an intention to build a clinic to serve residents from ward 4. To date the area where the clinic is expected to be constructed is still idle with no sign of development. Emganwini and Cowdray Park residents on the other hand have to commute long distances to neighbouring suburbs to access health care facilities, or are forced to visit clinics in the city centre. This is disadvantageous especially when patients are faced with emergencies or for those that cannot afford private clinics and hospitals. It is thus imperative that the local authority establishes clinics in those three areas.

Education a preserve for the elite

A number of students from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) face the possibility of deferring studies for a year after the institution’s authorities threatened that students who fail to make a down payment of $200 for fees by 13 February 2012 will be sent away. BPRA condemns this move as a sign of commercialisation of education. Disadvantaged students that are not under the cadetship programme may be forced to drop out as education is slowly becoming a preserve for the elite. Students at the  institution said the authorities should consider that majority of the population is informally employed while most employees earn salaries below the poverty datum line. In solidarity with Zimbabwe National Students’ Union (ZINASU), BPRA recommends that the government should reintroduce the students’ grant system. The system will not only alleviate the suffering of the parents in raising fees but will also assist students to progress. While BPRA consults Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights for advice, it also urges the responsible authorities to ensure an extension of this semester’s registration period and allow students to make binding long term payment plans. NUST authorities should also consult widely (with students, parents, guardians, stakeholders) and produce a standard policy regarding registration requirements.

BPRA condemns commercialisation of education

BPRA condemns the commercialisation of education following the threat by the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) to defer students who failed to pay their fees by 13 February 2012, a deadline stipulated by the institution. Education is slowly becoming a reserve for the elite as institutions shun disadvantaged students.
Not all students are under the cadetship programme that assists vulnerable students with fee payments. The majority of the Zimbabwean population is not formally employed while those that are, earn salaries that are below the poverty datum line. NUST is situated in Bulawayo, a city facing the numerous effects of deindustrialisation including high unemployment rates. Due to this parents and guardians cannot afford to clear tertiary education fees, which are at least $500, and pay bills. Deferring students that have failed to pay their fees and forcing them to automatically defer to their previous academic year is a costly set back that might force many to withdraw from tertiary education. This therefore perpetuates a vicious circle of poverty.
In solidarity with Zimbabwe National Students’ Union (ZINASU), BPRA recommends that the government should reintroduce the students’ grant system. The system will not only alleviate the suffering of the parents in raising fees but will also assist students to progress. While BPRA consults Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights it also urges the responsible authorities to ensure an extension of this semester’s registration period and allow students to make binding long term payment plans. NUST authorities should also consult widely (students, parents, guardians, stakeholders) and produce a standard policy regarding registration requirements.


Bulawayo Water and Sanitation Emergency Response (BOWSER)

BOWSER is funded by Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and is being implemented by a partnership consisting of the Bulawayo City Council, Dabane Trust and World Vision.

Budget: A total of US$ 8,333,161 was allocated for the project with AusAid contributing US$7, 224,352 and World Vision Australia providing US$1,108,809.

Time Frame: 1 April 2010 to 30 June 2012

Project Goal: To reduce vulnerability to waterborne diseases in Bulawayo through improved sewerage and water supply systems, and improved customer care and financial sustainability of the city council in the provision of water and sanitation services.

Expected Project Outcomes:
·        To enable at least 450 000 residents of Bulawayo to have access to a functioning sewage system
·        To provide at least 450 000 residents in Bulawayo with improved access to clean water through the city piped water systems
·       The City of Bulawayo and its Council have increased hygiene awareness and means to maximise its resources
·       City of Bulawayo has increased financial sustainability and improved customer care in the provision of water and sanitation services

Project Achievements to date:
-     The rehabilitation of 11 Pump Stations has commenced and materials and pumps are currently being procured and implementation is progressing
-          45 Sand Traps have been successfully cleared and cleaned by Dabane Trust
-          Builders have been contracted to raise Sand Traps and completely finished
-          250 KMs of Sewage Pipe Blockages have been cleared using Mechanical Jetting Equipment
-         Collapsed Main Outfall Sewers in Magwegwe, Davis Granite and Maswazi have been rehabilitated

Water Supply
-      100 percent of the Water Supply and Distribution Line leaks have been repairs – the project has engaged three contractual plumbers and 12 daily labourers
-        100 percent of Zone Meters have been procured and 75 percent installed. Mapping of the meters has been completed
-         Chemical Dosing Equipment Supply and Installation contracts have been completed.
-          Repair and rehabilitation of Clear Water Pumps contracts have been completed.
-         Repair and rehabilitation of Clear Water Pumps contracts have been awarded and the Contractor is currently in the process of finalising the implementation
-         The Main Line Leak Repair contract completion is expected to be mid February 2012
-         2 Dewatering pumps have been purchased and are in use for day to day undertakings 
-     The rehabilitation, upgrading and commissioning of filters for Ncema Water Works contract has been awarded and work is in progress  
      Participatory Health and Hygiene Education
-         Bulawayo residents, schools, churches and representatives from the City Health Department have participated in health and hygiene sessions
-   Billboards containing health and hygiene messages have been placed in various locations throughout Bulawayo
-      Health and hygiene education pamphlets, posters bumper stickers, disk holders and handbooks have been developed and circulated

       Geographic Information Systems Mapping
-      90 percent of the data required to develop a Utility Network Database has been captured. This database will enable the Bulawayo City Council to analyse the conditions, status and characteristics of these utilities for more effective operation and scheduled maintenance
-          Five high accuracy GPS Units have been procured

      Call Center
-          The office has been refurbished and is ready for use
-          PABX and Radio system tender is advertised, work is expected to start in February 2011
       WAN/LAN Upgrade
-          All materials have been procured
-          Work is 95 percent completed – hand over and commissioning  is expected in February 2012

       IT support
-          120 computers have been procured
-          72 printers have been procured
-          3 servers have been procured
-          Internet connection has been upgraded to 2MG 
       Ongoing Project Activities:
-       Finalizing of the rehabilitation, upgrading and commissioning of filters and clarifiers for Ncema Water Works
-         Facilitate further visits from representatives from Durban City Council for the development of the BCC Call Centre and different trainings on customer care
-          Ongoing monitoring and supervision of contracts
-          Deliberate evaluation and award contract for PABX and Radio Systems
-          Facilitate all the capacity building trainings – Engineering Software, GIS etc

Courtesy of Bulawayo City Council (BCC)

Note: Bulawayo progressive Residents Association will be using this fact sheet as part of its means/benchmarks to monitor service delivery by BCC especially in the areas of sanitation and water provision.  

Social welfare services a necessity

Residents are calling on the relevant ministries to ensure the welfare and protection of vulnerable members of the community. The disabled, aged, victims of social disasters or disorganisation deserve to be supported by social welfare programmes funded by the government. These may take the form of direct supportive or facilitating help (social service) or may take the form of actual benefits like money, food, medical care, institutional care or it may take the form of efforts to interpret their needs or assist others in securing a better adaptation of the total social structure, including its economic and legal arrangements, to meeting those needs. This call comes after people that were displaced from Cowdray Park and other areas have not yet been relocated after more than five years since the destructive Operation Murambatsvina. Most of them had their back yard businesses struck down while others were left homeless. The government should take full responsibility of these people, most of whom do not have national identity documents, scattered in squatter camps in the city. The city council has also been urged to upgrade its housing scheme and thwart the increase of illegal squatter camps.

BPRA Activities (11 and 12 February 2012)

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) held three consultative meetings on Saturday 11 February 2012 and one on Sunday 12 February 2012 in Nkulumane, Pumula South, Pumula Old and Emakhandeni, respectively. The meetings were aimed at awarding residents the opportunity to dialogue on issues affecting them and also to discuss service delivery in the various wards. Different issues were raised in the meetings. Residents raised concern over the rigorous process of acquiring documentation such as birth and deaths certificates, national identity cards and passports. Participants also expressed dismay that elderly residents and citizens are required to pay rates. They argued that there was a need for senior citizens to be charged lower rates than other residents and for arrangements to be made to protect them from water and electricity disconnections. They highlighted that elderly ratepayers were struggling because they do not have sources of income. Residents also complained about the failure of the local authority to engage in pest control resulting in mosquitoes breeding in large numbers and harassing residents.

Meanwhile, over the same weekend, BPRA also organised four training workshops that were held in Ward 3, 8, 20 and 23. The workshop focused on two modules, participatory budgeting and gender budgeting. The two modules that are part of the second phase of the Residents Leadership Development programme are aimed at empowering residents’ leaders with knowledge on how participatory and gender budgeting can lead to improved service delivery and acknowledgement of the needs of diverse groups in society such as orphans, women, people living with HIV, the poor and the elderly in provision of services.

Residents Voices – Issue 70 -

Residents Reject Housing Proposal

RESIDENTS of Pumula, St Peters, Robert Sinyoka and Methodist communities in Bulawayo on Wednesday 8 February 2012 rejected a project proposed by the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) in conjunction with the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) that aims to resettle squatters from Killarney and Trenance in the area. The project aims to provide a total of 197 housing stands, with 182 meant for squatters and 15 set aside for the residents of Pumula, St Peters, Robert Sinyoka and Methodist.

The residents rejected the proposed project primarily because they have been lobbying to be given the piece of land in question for housing stands since 1998. According to the residents, representatives from St Peters, Robert Sinyoka and Methodist have been requesting to be allocated the piece of land for housing on the basis that houses in the area are overcrowded. They said they were dismayed that they had been denied access to the land for fourteen years, only to be informed that the same piece of land was going to be given to people who are not even in Bulawayo’s housing waitlist. The residents also said they felt that the allocation of 15 stands out of the available 197 to them was a ploy to get them to accede to the project. They also raised concerns that the project could lead to a high crime rate and conflict in the area as most people in squatter camps are unemployed and not registered at the Registrar’s Office.

However, addressing the residents of the area, the City Council Director of Housing and Community Services, Mr Isaiah Magagula said there was abundant space in the area and promised the residents that land would be allocated to them in the future. He also assured residents that the people to be resettled in the area had been vetted and would pose no problem.
It is not clear what course of action the city council will take as indications are that the project was approved by councillors, who failed to consult the residents. However the city council delegation, headed by Mr Magagula told the residents that the project would be reviewed to see what changes could be made to make it more acceptable to the residents of Pumula, St Peters, Robert Sinyoka and Methodist.

While Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) acknowledges the effort by the local authority to resettle squatters and commends its strategic partnerships with donor organisations in the quest to improve service provision in the city, the association believes that there should be more consultation with residents. The association believes that it is only through consultation and engagement that service delivery issues affecting residents can be dealt with.

Alert - BPRA weekend activities (11 and 12 February 2012)

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) will this weekend (11 and 12 February 2012) be holding consultative meetings and training workshops as part of its quest to empower the residents of Bulawayo to take charge of their destinies in the areas of service delivery and local governance. The meetings are aimed at assessing the state of service delivery in Bulawayo and will offer residents a platform to engage with their councillors and Members of Parliament on critical issues affecting them. The training workshops are aimed at empowering residents to participate in the discourse on critical issues affecting the lives of residents. At the workshops, residents’ leaders will be trained in participatory budgeting and gender budgeting which are part of the Residents Leadership Development Programme that is currently underway at BPRA.

Below are tables showing the scheduling for the consultative meetings and training workshops:

Consultative meetings
Saturday 11 Feb 2012
Nkulumane (22)
Nkulumane Hall
2pm – 4pm
Saturday 11 Feb 2012
Pumula South (27)
Pumula South Hall
9am – 12pm
Sunday 11 Feb 2012
Old Pumula (19)
Old Pumula Hall
2pm – 4pm
Sunday 12 Feb 2012
Emakhandeni (11)
Emakhandeni Hall
2pm – 4pm

Training Workshops
Saturday 11 Feb 2012
Emganwini (23)
Church of Christ
10 am – 4pm
Sunday 12 Feb 2012
Mzilikazi (8)
Lozikeyi Primary sch
10 am – 4pm
Sunday 12 Feb 2012
Ward 3
Cillas Conference
10 am – 4pm
Sunday 12 Feb 2012
Nkulumane (20)
Nkulumane 12 College
10am – 4pm