Byo councillors fume at Zanu PF ‘attempts’ to hijack Egodini project

Bulawayo councillors have called for a speedy relocation of vendors and commuter omnibus operators to Egodini accusing the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Judith Ncube of attempting to hijack the project.

The local authority entered into a deal with Terracotta Trading Private Limited (TTPL), to develop Egodini Mall in 2015 but the project is yet to be completed.

Recently, the council which has been facing pressure from residents and other stakeholders to complete the project, announced that the relocation will be done this February.

Speaking during a full council meeting, Wednesday, councillors fumed at what they said were attempts by the resident minister – a Zanu PF appointee – to hijack the project and parcel out vending bays to party supporters.

This is after the minister in the company of members of the Joint Operations Command (JOC) toured the construction site and made recommendations for the expansion of the bays.

Debating the matter, the city fathers said the minister was stepping out of line by meddling in local authority issues.

“The government is really undermining the local authority. The Provincial Minister is now acting as though she is the mayor of the city. She is supposed to stick to ministerial issues, not local government issues. She needs to stick to her duties and not do as she pleases. Even according to the Constitution, we only accommodate her because she is from Bulawayo,” said  Alderman Siboniso Khumalo said. 

“As per our wish and agreement with Terracotta, when kombis occupy their space in December, followed by vendors. BCC management erred to go behind our backs and sit down with politicians without informing this August house. This project is supposed to aid Bulawayo people and be inline with our transport policy. The project is almost complete yet it is now being hijacked by outsiders.” 

Ald Khumalo added that there was an existing list of people meant to occupy spaces at Egodini already, hence the minister’s suggestion had no basis.

Cllr Edwin Ndlovu weighed in stating that the council should not bother entertaining the report because the proper procedure was not followed.

“Right now we are debating a report that is not coming from the people of Bulawayo. It’s not even coming from the councilors. Why are we even entertaining this report? If it were a town planning report it would have been better, but these are total strangers. The Minister is supposed to be briefed by you Your Worship not the other way round,” Cllr Ndlovu said.

Ward 9 Cllr Donaldson Mabuto added: “This project started a very long time ago, we need to know why it hasn’t been completed yet. Politics has taken its toll on the project. How did a minister of provincial affairs go alone to our project? She really erred,” he said. 

Ald Earnest Rafamoyo suggested that the council moves in people as soon as possible as per their initial agreement.

“I propose we move ahead as we had initially planned. The government has destroyed Bulawayo. Before further damage is done, the council should commence the process of allowing vendors and kombi operators back to Egodini. If we fail to do this we would have failed Bulawayo as a city,” Ald Rafamoyo said.

“That project is for our people and the time they were supposed to be there has already lapsed. This house has the authority so we are taking this decision today that our stakeholders who are supposed to operate there will move in with immediate effect.”

City Mayor, Cllr Solomon Mguni, reiterated that the project had already stalled long enough and further delays were no longer welcome. 

“This report is stating that the redevelopment of the project will affect the timelines. Honestly, how many times have we adjusted this timeline? Who has authorised this and how did they make this decision with the developer? If this goes through we may even go as far as July before kombis reoccupy Egodini,” Cllr Mguni said.

“We have a contract with the developer and this is now an ovation of the very same contract. The developer may take advantage of these changes and even take longer to complete the project. We never went in the ground to change these terms of the contract. Is this how we want to govern?”

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