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Bulawayo residents 2 - 0 Chombo
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA)
March 27, 2013

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA), through its Ward 13 Chairperson, Alick Gumede, has once again blocked the Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development from undemocratically interfering in the affairs of Bulawayo without the consultation of residents. Alick Gumede under the aegis of BPRA has successfully blocked two special interest councillors – Gatsha Mazitulela and Siphiwe Ncube – who were unilaterally imposed on Bulawayo by Minister Chombo from attending Bulawayo City Council (BCC) meetings after he filed a high court application arguing that the appointments were unwarranted and a waste of ratepayers’ money as councillors’ terms of office were about to end. In January, BPRA again, through its Secretary for People Living with Disabilities in ward 13, successfully blocked Chombo from appointing Fidelis Fengu as a special interest councillor in Bulawayo.

Gumede, through his lawyer Job Sibanda argued in papers filed on 26 February 2013 that, “the appointments were grossly irregular as to defy common sense in that the very life of council to which they have been appointed comes to an end in the next month or so.” He further argued that: “such appointments shall not benefit council, but shall only drain the financial resources of the council to which the applicant is a contributor by virtue of him being a ratepayer.” According to media reports, High Court Judge Justice Meshack Cheda last Thursday (21 March 2013) barred the two special interest councillors from attending BCC meetings pending the outcome of the court challenge by Gumede. He is cited as having said he was “inclined to agree that no purpose will be served by these appointments” arguing that they were too late and hence unreasonable.

BPRA has previously expressed concerns that the Urban Council’s Act (Chapter 29:15) invests too much power in the Minister of Local Government, allowing him too much leeway to undemocratically dictate the conduct of local authorities without consulting residents. It is BPRA’s contention that special interest councillors should not be imposed by a minister, but should be elected by the residents (or the special interest group to be represented) in a democratic manner. As such BPRA rejects the appointment of special interest councillors as they are imposed by Minister Chombo, who is not impartial in the country’s political contestations, without consultation of residents. As part of its mandate to promote democratic local governance in Zimbabwe, the association will step up its campaign to have the Urban Council’s Act amended. Furthermore, it will continue to resist attempts my Minister Chombo or any other minister of local government that may be appointed in the future from undemocratically meddling in the affairs of Bulawayo.

Visit the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association fact sheet

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