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BCC blasted over proposal to disband municipal police

by Staff rporter
03 Jul 2023 at 07:09hrs | Views
BULAWAYO residents have reacted with anger following the proposal by the local authority to disband municipal police and engage a private security company, saying the move is not only unprecedented, but an abuse of office, and a fertile ground for corruption.

Bulawayo City Council (BCC) said the objective of the proposed action plan of replacing its security unit with a private security company is to ensure accountability and improve security measures.

BCC is also considering reporting bad debtors to the Credit Bureau, reintroducing the Revenue Hall flea market popularly known as Khothama with traders interested in occupying the vending stalls required to pay strictly in foreign currency.

Added to that, the council also intends to replace permanent staff with contract workers. Workers will be hired on a renewable six-month contract.

"The objective of this action plan is to improve security measures within the city council by replacing the current security personnel with a private security company. This will ensure accountability, reduce the risk of collusion with corrupt staff members and increase overall safety of council premises," reads part of the report.

However, the proposal has drawn sharp criticism from residents who said officials pushing the idea have ulterior motives.

They said the private security scheme is meant to create a feeding trough for top officials at the expense of the security of the city.

Reacting to the proposal, a Twitter user @TendayiManyange said "Who is running this council? I suspect the ‘private' security companies involved will be owned by the very people running the council."

Another user @maphungubgwe weighed in: "A private security company needs to run payroll and still make a profit on top of the payroll. BCC police just take only the payroll. This is unfortunate, wrong and a channel for tender corruption."

@mandlabafo said: "This is nonsense. The current political party running the affairs of the municipality is greedy and has to be ignored."

Said @FadzoBenjamin1: "Beware of tenderpreneurs. The City Council should maintain the old system. Someone wants to make a quick buck. What's wrong with us, trying to steal public funds through dubious means? They should just stop it."

In a statement yesterday, Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) said it is imperative for BCC to come up with robust revenue collection strategies to harness key financial resources to aid the improvement of service delivery.

BPRA said the city is facing a myriad of service delivery challenges from clean water and sewer reticulation, healthcare services, poor roads and poor waste management.

"Residents of Bulawayo believe that a robust revenue collection strategy is essential. However, the strategy proposed by the City of Bulawayo poses a lot of concerns for the residents which include, but not limited to the following: sub-contracting local authority services has proved to be the main driver and loophole for corruption," reads part of the statement.

The association said the Egodini project remains a nightmare for the city as it has disrupted the previously effective transport services in Bulawayo.

BPRA said the move by BCC targeting low-grade workers will expose workers to abuse and exploitation by those deemed to be permanent workers.

The association said replacing permanent staff with contract workers as a means of fighting corruption will eventually lead to increased cases of corruption.

"Terminating the permanent workers may lead to the Bulawayo City Council having to deal with lawsuits which might attract high legal costs," said BPRA.

It said replacing permanent staff with contract staff will come at a cost for the council as the strategy highlights that they will be a need to advertise new contract posts, conduct interviews and trainings for the selected candidates.

"This, in turn, means an increase in unbudgeted funds being channelled towards such an exercise, a cost which will only be pushed to already strained residents of Bulawayo," read the statement.

The association said if not properly monitored, having contract workers may compromise quality of services provided by the City of Bulawayo as a contract worker may not share the long-term strategy and vision of the city.

Source - The Chronicle