Magwegwe residents are up in arms with their councilor for allegedly recruiting individuals she is personally aligned to so they could work in council programmes.
In May, residents wrote a petition against their Ward 18 councillor, Concilia Mlalazi, accusing her of using the Bulawayo City Council’s expanded public works scheme to gain favours.
The petition was delivered to Bulawayo Town Clerk, Christopher Dube; City mayor, Solomon Mguni and the councillor herself.
Speaking at a meeting organised by the Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) Monday, residents disclosed divisions had arose within the community, as they were unhappy with the recruitment process of those working under the expanded public works programme.
Secretary for Gender in the Bulawayo United Residents Association (BUPRA), Mildred Ncube alleged that whenever Mlalazi addressed community meetings, she would either grandstand politically instead of addressing their concerns.
“The councillor has never attended our meetings because she believes we are fighting with her yet we have tried so many times to engage her. Our efforts to make her attend our meetings are to no avail. This has affected the community because some people have also stopped coming to the meetings as they assume we overly scrutinise the public works programme,” Ncube said.
She noted that residents were not fighting Mlalazi but rather wanted to advise her to include all those who were vulnerable.
“We are not saying she must please everyone in Magwegwe but we suggest that she must at least make sure people are rotated. She cannot employ the same people over and over, as a result some have been employed for more than five years,” she said.
Ncube added the aggrieved residents were now working on coming up with a position paper and trying to familiarise themselves with council by-laws.
Another resident, Netsai Kawome, complained that their efforts of petitioning the councillor seemed fruitless.
“As residents we all expect to benefit from the public works programme and we wrote a petition but nothing seems to have happened,” Kawome said.
Phineas Kamunda concurred that Mlalazi had become elusive as she was avoiding residents, not giving them an opportunity to discuss their grievances.
“This is why we want our petition to be addressed speedily then we know the position we are in regarding this matter,” he noted.
At the same gathering, TIZ Advocacy Officer, Njabulo Moyo pointed out gaps in the Council Provisions Act.
“Beyond one being councillor of a ward, the role of council in the provisions of the Urban Act is not clear on how councillors must administer the public works programme. The act only speaks to the roles and responsibility of a councillor such as by-law making and facilitating community development and such gaps become a weakness,” he said.
Moyo confirmed that at least 500 residents had signed the petition against Mlalazi but no formal response had been made.
“However, what was agreed as well is that the petition should be supported by a position paper that will serve as an alternative to the current law, so that this issue doesn’t only become a Magwegwe issue but involve the administration of the Bulawayo City Council,” he said.
When contacted for a comment Mlalazi said she could not comment as she was waiting for a ruling to be made by council.
“Following the petition submitted by residents, I cannot comment, as I am now waiting for a judgement,” she quipped.