Opposition candidates fail to show up for election debate

Four opposition candidates vying for the Ward 12 Njube local authority seat failed to show up for an election debate Thursday leaving the ruling party, Zanu PF’s candidate Mary Ncube to field questions alone.

Ncube is up against Visitor Ndebele of MDC-Alliance, Casper Sibanda of ZAPU, Lilian Mlilo of Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) and Esnath Khumalo of the Republican Party of Zimbabwe (RPZ).

The election debate is organised by CITE and the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) as a way for the electorate to know their candidates ahead of the March 26 by-elections.

Without the presence of the other competitors, the Zanu PF candidate had a chance to present her manifesto and explain her vision to residents who had gathered in their hundreds at Njube Hall.

Ncube, (54), a former public prosecutor, assured residents that although she was a Zanu PF member, she would work with everyone to develop Njube.

“Let’s open our eyes, look beyond political parties and work together,” she said.

The aspiring councillor noted that her top priorities if elected in the by-election would be to prioritise Njube residents in local projects and make sure they participate fully.

“I will revive the social clubs that used to be there before, where women used to meet, teach each other knitting, cooking, baking but now these clubs house churches or are used for criminal activities and the intended beneficiaries are not benefitting,” she said.

“We have land in-fills where we see people from other areas settling here yet we have people in Njube who need houses, even if you have a house, your child needs a house and must have it here. No one who is not from Ward 12 must run a carpark here.”

The Zanu PF candidate added she would push the city council to deal with the various service delivery issues such as poor infrastructure and sewer bursts.

“Dealing with these challenges needs a councillor who will push the council to do its work. As Ward 12 residents, it’s your right to know what happens in council, you have to know how the Ward Retention Funds works or is distributed because you pay rates whether you are a lodger or a landlord. It will be my duty to inform you about this fund because it is yours and you have a right to say what project must be prioritised,” she said.

Ncube pointed out the city council used to run bars, whose revenue was used to develop the different wards but lamented that those bars were now run by individuals who did not plough back to communities.

“You find that these bars are owned by individuals who are related to council bosses. This must not be the case,” claimed the Zanu PF candidate.

She added another top priority for her was to push the recognition of senior citizens.

“The social welfare is supposed to benefit senior citizens but it’s not happening. I will also push for senior citizens to not pay at council clinics and to be exempted from paying rates, who are we if we can’t respect our elders,” Ncube said.

Residents also strongly advised Ncube that if she happened to be elected, she must work for everyone in Njube and not be partisan as was the tendency and behaviour of some Zanu PF members.

“What we care about is that you work for the people. We don’t want a situation where once you are elected, you tell us things are done your way or no way at all.  Or when we come to you tell us we have never attended a Zanu meeting. When elected you must serve everyone whether they are in the MDC or ZAPU,” said a female resident who did not identify herself.

Another resident Sibongile Nkomo emphasised that candidates must stop relying on the strength of political party names to win.

“The actions of a candidate count the most because people may choose you but in the end you don’t do anything. we need to see action,” she said.

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