BULAWAYO residents have lambasted a council resolution to relocate Mayor Councillor Solomon Mguni from his Nkulumane house to a council property in Burnside, describing it as an insult to the people who voted him into office.
They said the paranoia of a possible attack on Clr Mguni by disgruntled members of the public as part of justification for his relocation was in fact an admission of failure by the MDC-Alliance led council in providing service to the people.
They said Clr Mguni will be the first mayor to live away from residents who voted him into power as all his predecessors were happy to serve from their original residential places.
The backlash follows reports that Bulawayo City Council has considered securing accommodation for Clr Mguni following a series of break-ins at his house.
Two months ago, thieves broke into Clr Mguni’s car and stole cash among other valuables at his home in Nkulumane.
A council confidential report reveals that after the mayor’s car was broken into, the council considered moving him to secure accommodation, claiming Clr Mguni could be attacked by disgruntled stakeholders.
“The person of the mayor might be a target of attacks by virtue of the office he occupies. Besides everyday thuggery, the Mayor might be targeted for attacks by disgruntled stakeholders for the reason that he is the council’s figurehead. Such attacks might have perilous results.
“Council owns a certain property at Hornung Golf Club and it is currently leased to a tenant.
“The Town Clerk (Mr Christopher Dube) considered it prudent that this be transformed into the Mayoral accommodation and that council provides security to guard the property and the occupants,” reads part of the report.
Council resolved that the person occupying the house must be given notice to vacate the premises and that thereafter it be occupied by the mayors of the city. According to the report, most of the councillors opposed the move, questioning how Clr Mguni will continue to carry out his ward duties.
In an interview yesterday, Bulawayo United Residents Association (Bura) chairperson Mr Winos Dube said the thieves’ story was not adding up and could not be used to justify moving Clr Mguni to Burnside.
“The council is not justified because Mayor Mguni, of all the mayors, suddenly has security issues and that leaves us with a lot of questions.
What makes him different from other mayors in the past who have never had security issues?” he said.
“In fact, we smell a rat and no one has consulted us as stakeholders to discuss the issue, we have been left out as rate payers. We just heard from the media even about the burglary and we wonder why there was money in his car in the first place,” said Mr Dube.
He said all Bulawayo residents are prone to break-ins from time to time. He urged council to beef up the mayor’s home security.
“This claim about fears of attack is an indirect admission that the council has failed us. This is a first of its kind. We have always spoken about service delivery but we have never had a mayor running away from the people. I think he feels he has failed to deliver hence he wants to leave the people,” he added.
Mr Dube said Bulawayo’s service delivery leaves a lot to be desired but people would never attack the mayor for that.
“We are not happy with the service delivery but this whole move is not even justified. We do not have any powers but through the voice we are saying he must stay with the people who elected him into office. He was not elected as a superior or king of the people,” he said.
“Everyone has a right to move within suburbs but we do not understand and as rate payers we are not happy with that. This is an insult to the Nkulumane community.”
Mr Ben Moyo from the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association said the move sets a bad precedent.
“The move is unjustified and sets a bad precedent because for the past forty years all the mayors we had lived in their own residences, even the executive Mayor Ndabeni Ncube never had that kind of perk. If the move is motivated by security, then let’s tighten security in Nkulumane,” said Mr Moyo.
“Rate payers won’t have a problem with the council moving towards boosting security at his place. We do not want to think there is anything sinister but the same mayor got a plot for a song in Upper Rangemore. We tried contesting and lost and the same mayor now seeks to live far away from the people who elected him.”
Mr Moyo added, “He belongs with the people. Council has failed rate payers. We voted for someone who stays with the people. The move is unjustified. Why should residents be left to thieves and the mayor not be exposed to the same conditions facing his own people?”
Contacted for comment on the issue Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube said he was not at liberty to comment on issues involving his superior.