By Lulu Brenda Harris
Bulawayo must not rely on one municipality but have other local authorities functioning within it, in order to decongest the city and be able to deliver quality service to residents.
This was said by Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, July Moyo during a devolution conference recently where he argued that places within the city’s boundaries must develop into autonomous towns.
Moyo said the city could have several local authorities, each one having its name and autonomy and still be part of Bulawayo Metropolitan Council once devolution was in effect.
“These are issues we must discuss openly because Bulawayo is a hub of economic development in the region and the city must become metropolitan indeed, not a one eyed metropolitan as it is now,” he said.
Moyo noted that Bulawayo can grow but in order to grow, developers had to start creating towns within the city.
“Let’s decongest and create towns -whoever is building. I refuse to let anyone approve of a plan which says Rangemore plots shall become a part of Bulawayo never! We want a city centre there in Rangemore. There must be a Central Business District, an industrial area and a commercial area there so that you don’t congest Bulawayo,” he said.
The minister said he has challenged property developers to adopt this thinking.
“I told developers who want to build 15 000 households and not towns. Multiply 15 000 households with the average 5.6 people per household that becomes 80 000 people, which means amassing this number in Bulawayo to further impact on the CBD.
“No, we can’t allow this. I know Rangemore … create a town there for those people, they can still come to Bulawayo for some things. Create smart cities and this is in Section 301 of the constitution,” he said.
Moyo noted that Scandinavian countries had perfected their devolution model, the likes of Sweden and Norway, as they created equalisation grants to make sure all provinces were equal in economic activity.
“The question for us is how then do we uplift the provinces? We have to put money to raise them to a national threshold in our constitution. If schools, roads, clinics, water, electricity is not adequate that is marginalisation, which we must deal with as mentioned in the constitution,” said the minister.
He noted that if he were to ask which area in Matabeleland was most marginalised, most would say Binga but using elements to measure marginalisation, Bulawayo could be more marginalised.
“You can measure this using population densities, poverty dense, quality of service delivering to people and we can end up saying Bulawayo is marginalised.
“Certainly the people of Makokoba are totally marginalised, I don’t need a rocket scientist to tell me that they are marginalised. Then the government through this constitution must provide money to attack the marginalisation,” Moyo said.
The minister highlighted that before government availed money, provinces must look at their economic capabilities.
“As Bulawayo what are the opportunities that the city delivers, what are the assets that Bulawayo has and are these used efficiently and economically? This is in the constitution and we have to ask if you are using this assets efficiently, so that government does not end giving resources to people who will sit on the resources,” he said.
To answer to these questions, Moyo said devolution must look at the developmental aspects and requirements of Bulawayo, which means each province must have its own Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“The GDP will be used to measure if Bulawayo is using its assets efficiently and if it is marginalised or not. We have to gauge whether Bulawayo’s GDP growth rate is lower than others or too low. Shall it remain too low once we know the assets in Bulawayo? To lift up the GDP requires concerted efforts of all stakeholders then Bulawayo can start making demands to central government because the constitution says you must make those demands,” the minister explained.
The GDP, Moyo noted is a measure, which would give an indication of which part of Zimbabwe is lagging behind and tell government what can be done to improve the city.
“GDP of a local authority must tell us such issues but now the problem in Bulawayo is when we talk about a metropolitan council we are talking about the Bulawayo City Council, and the boundaries who are contenders are one and the same thing in Bulawayo. “In my view, we cannot continue to have Rangemore as a non-urban area in Umguza. We cannot continue to have the area along airport road, which has houses outside the city boundaries be part of Bulawayo. Developers