Flora Fadzai Sibanda, Chronicle Reporter
PARENTS whose children learn at Mpopoma High School are celebrating the removal of a billboard advertising cigarettes that was erected in front of the school premises a month ago.
The advert promoting Pacific Cigarettes brand was removed on Monday morning.
A local blogger Mr Michael Mbele, who started an online petition to have the billboard removed, as well as other Bulawayo residents took to Twitter to celebrate the removal of the advert.
In an interview with Chronicle, Mr Mbele said those who were behind the advert must also apologise.
“I’m very happy that it was taken down, but I still feel insulted as do many other people. I suggest that Pacific Cigarettes together with the advertising agency behind the billboard publicly apologise to Bulawayo residents. In future, when there’s a similar social injustice, we should be ready to stand up and diplomatically fight as we did. I’d like to thank everyone who was involved in the campaign,” he said.
“The Bulawayo City Council, as the overseeing authority here, should know where all billboards are located as well as their nature and the companies because something similar could happen again, and they will tell us that they didn’t know again. That’s very reckless. They can do better than this. If a billboard is to be put up in front of a school, it should be advertising stationery, school uniforms and similar things that are relevant to students and also mould them to be upstanding citizens of our country.”
Mr Allan Moyo, who has a child at Mpopoma High, said he is very happy that action was taken swiftly.
“When my daughter told me the billboard had been removed I could not believe it. I went there to see the empty space for myself. I am very happy for the swift action that was taken” said Mr Moyo.
Bulawayo City Council corporate communications officer, Miss Bongiwe Ngwenya said the local authority is not responsible for what happened.
She said they only sell advertising space to advertising companies and Askeland Media is in charge of that space where the offending advert was placed.
“We are not responsible for the billboard advertisements. The only thing we are responsible for is the revenue that comes from these companies,” said Miss Ngwenya.
Askeland Advertising director Mr Daniel Njinji said:
“Our company is not responsible for that advert. We do not know who put it up there and we are not even in partnership with Pacific. If that is really our advertising space it means someone stole it.”