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Residents picket BCC over Emganwini stands

Scores of residents Wednesday protested at Nketa Housing Office in Bulawayo, demanding to know why the local authority has not availed residential stands they purchased five years ago in Emganwini Suburb.

The angry residents said they made full payments for those stands in 2016 but up to date nothing had materialised forcing them to go camp at the housing office.

A CITE news crew found the residents seated on the lawn, vowing not to leave until their grievances had been addressed by the officials.

“For the past five years, the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has not given us satisfactory reasons as to why we cannot start building our houses on that land. I’m a widow and have worked extremely hard to pay for this stand. I survive on cross-border trading, selling stuff to raise money for this stand. It breaks my heart when the city council, supposed to be a trusted entity fails us like this,”

Oripa Matongo, an elderly woman, who is one of the buyers.

The residents said to receive council’s attention they had since engaged lawyers to act on their behalf.

“I paid US$7 000 for this stand and I’m hurt because some of my children whom I wanted to build a house for are now late. I only have one child who is unemployed and over the years, I too have become sickly and should anything happen to me, this stand will obviously be repossessed as nothing has been built on it. All my hardwork will be for nothing,” Matongo said.

Another resident, who identified herself as MaMoyo accused the city council for lacking transparency.

“The officials are evasive and we are no longer confident that we will get our stands,” she said.

MaMoyo added that the city council claimed the stands had been 95 percent serviced while the remaining 5 percent was left to conclude road rehabilitation.

“This has been the story for the past four years. We paid for these stands in full and the council is being dishonest with us. Right now, we have been here since morning and the council haven’t addressed us. They think they can hide from us forever. All we need is the truth,” she said.

Sithokozile Dube, another buyer, complained they purchased building material several years ago yet had to donate to relatives, as it was deteriorating.

“We took some materials for safekeeping as thieves were now enjoying,” she said.

Dube added they had also processed building plans at the city council, which had even expired, meaning new plans would be required.

“Imagine the burden! We were told that within 18 months of purchasing we could start building. Five years later, our materials are still lying idle and the council will not reimburse us for our expired plans. These people don’t care about us,” she retorted.

“Right now we are renting and we pay in USD when we could have built our houses. This council is really dodgy. Today they chase us away telling us to write a letter. We have written enough letters through our lawyers, which never materialised that’s why today we had to come in person.”

A letter from Coghlan and Welsh Legal Practitioners standing in for the council, dating back to August 2020, seen by CITE claimed there was an ongoing arbitrary process between city council and contractors awarded the tender to service the stands.

“There are Arbitral proceedings between BCC and Tzircalle Contractors who were awarded the tender to service the stands. The completed earthworks will be damaged by the beneficiaries vehicles as they transport their construction material for their structures,” said the Coghlan and Welsh Legal Practitioners

“It would also be unworkable to complete the surfacing of roads when the stands have already been occupied. Some of the works require the roads to be closed for seven days in between putting the prime coat and second coat.”

A letters from the complainant’s lawyer, Dube and Associates, highlighted that over 70 members of the public who bought stands in Emganwini and Tshabalala sometime in 2016 and according to the sale agreement, were supposed to have started building in October 2019 because they were all fully paid up. 

Contacted for comment, BCC Public Relations Officer, Bongiwe Ngwenya, said she would comment once she had all the facts and requested questions in writing.

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