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Bulawayo residents, town clerk clash over mining claims

by Staf reporter
13 Sep 2017 at 15:11hrs | Views
Bulawayo residents have slammed council's decision to award gold mining claims to town clerk Christopher Dube and a senior official in the Local Government ministry, arguing the move is blatant abuse of authority.

Curiously, the decision comes just a few months after Dube was blocked from taking up the claims by councillors who argued that they should benefit the city and not an individual.

The residents - represented by the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) - say the move is part of "a looting trend by councillors and local authority officials in Bulawayo".

But Dube has hit back, accusing the BPRA of being petty.   

"They (BPRA) should go wherever they want and challenge the decision. I am a resident of Bulawayo and a citizen of Zimbabwe so I equally deserve to get what other residents or citizens are getting.

"By being a town clerk I don't cease to be a resident of Bulawayo. Who said a town clerk should be poor, I also want to be rich just like anyone that is why I am investing in a project that is not only going to benefit me but develop the city as well. Remember, I am also creating employment opportunities," Dube told the Daily News.  

"Just like any other resident I take opportunities whenever they present themselves. Besides, I applied for this and firstly I was turned down and finally I was accepted because I provided everything which was required by council through my company.

"Remember, I am a businessman and I am not going to be directly involved into mining I own a company and it's the one that will be doing everything.

"That's the problem we find here, you prefer to have someone outside Bulawayo getting those claims than the people of Bulawayo themselves, that's very bad," added the town clerk.

His company, Belmac Investments, was last week awarded mining claims located at Bulawayo City Council-owned Aisleby Farm.

Mayor Martin Moyo, who also eyed the claims and had been shortlisted, lost out to the named senior official in the Local Government ministry, who jointly won the claims at council's Good Hope Farm with one Mngane Ncube.

The developments raised residents' eyebrows, who suspected them of being dodgy.

"This is the continuation of a looting trend by councillors and local authority officials in Bulawayo that includes purchasing of a vehicle worth $118 000 for Moyo and purchases of tablets (gadgets) for councillors barely a year before the end of their term of office, despite evidence of huge shortfalls in service delivery in the city," BPRA information manager, Zibusiso Dube, told the Daily News.

"It is an indication of the misplaced priorities at the council, which continues focusing on benefits and comforts for senior officials at the expense of service delivery and efficient operations of the local authority."

Zibusiso Dube said the move to approve the town clerk's application, let alone him submitting his application, was emblematic of the dearth of public integrity and ethics within the local governance fraternity in the city.  

According to the latest council report, 33 applicants expressed interest in taking up the claims at the two farms.  However, just 19 were responsive, with the list being reduced to the eight that were presented last week during a full council meeting.

BPRA information manager further noted that approval of the applications raises questions on what measures are in place to prevent officials in local authorities from abusing their positions for personal enrichment.  

"It raises concerns on the rationale for the decision to approve the application.

"Was the approval based on potential benefits to the city of Bulawayo, or was it based on the simple reasoning that the applicant is the town clerk of Bulawayo?" he queried.

The residents' representative body warned that it will not take the matter lying.

"It is BPRA'S contention that more effective conflict of interest and declaration of interest policies need to be put in place to avoid similar occurrences in future.

"In line with this, and in the interests of promoting public integrity and combating corruption in Zimbabwe, BPRA shall be engaging stakeholders and residents in Bulawayo to map a way forward for the city, and a massive resistance to this kind of unethical behaviour shall be instituted."             

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Source - dailynews
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