Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) Director of Engineering Services, Engineer Simela Dube — whose trademark smile was but almost contagious was a man of few words. He loved to act more than talk and whenever he spoke, he would do so with detailed discipline and an amazing intelligence that showed a man who was grounded in reality.
Everytime I made an inquiry he would cut me short, with a chuckle and a short phrase; “Ngubani osekutshele leyo (Who has leaked that one),” before giving a detailed response to the enquiry.
The late engineer was always willing to give clarity on the functioning of his department, which among other things, dealt with water, sewer and roads, by far the engine room of the local authority.
Eng Dube took every article about council in the paper, as one that seeks to correct and guide the operations of the local authority keeping them in check as provided for in the watchdog role of the media.
In most council functions he was among the few council directors to go out of his way and we interact even if it was for a couple of minutes.
He was one of the few who would gladly answer to an enquiry, or would direct me to the rightful person albeit after giving me a few guiding information.
So above board was the manner in which Eng Dube ran his department that it led the city to be named the best-run local authority in the country, among the many accolades the city has received over the years.
Information was always at his fingertips, he would passionately speak of the city’s water reticulation system with ease, spelling out where they were coming from, where they were and where they were headed as a city.
Sometime, around 2010-2011, councillors devised a devious plan to ‘‘ambush’’ him during a full council meeting, by declaring a council in-committee session, which required council officials to respond to councillors’ enquiries with the public in attendance.
Eng Dube took a question on the water situation on the stride, spelling out facts that left the public gallery in awe and councillors with egg on their faces as the ambushing tactics failed to yield whatever outcome they aimed at achieving.
This is the man who came up with the famous, award-winning, Big Flush, at the height of the city’s water woes, this is the man who was at the centre of things working on various water and sewer projects in the city, under the Bulawayo Water and Sewerage Services Improvement Project (BWSSIP).
He is also the man who spearheaded the establishment of the first-ever call centre within a local authority, another award-winning concept.
As if his achievements were not enough, Eng Dube led the development of the first Water and Waste Water Master plan in the country, and the setting up of the City of Bulawayo Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and the development of the City of Bulawayo Road Condition Survey, among his many accomplishments.
This is the man who endured all sorts of insults from residents, when the city’s water crisis was at its worst, with the local authority having been forced to effect a 144-hour water shedding schedule, instead he remained resolute and forward-looking, striving to identify a solution to the perennial water woes.
This is a man who left South Africa to come and toil for the local authority as the director of engineering services at a time when most engineers in the country were leaving the country for greener pastures.
I am sure, with his long curriculum vitae and his achievements in the city, over the years, he had received a lot of offers to leave the country but due to his love for the City of Kings he remained resolute, not even twitching, knowing that he had to complete the journey he had started.
To show his dedication and love for the City of Bulawayo, Eng Dube’s run with the local authority as the engineering services director, was his fourth dance after having previously been a bursary student engineer under BCC’s bursary scheme (1984-1987), he was then appointed a junior engineer in October 1988, rising through the ranks to the position of construction engineer mainly involved in road construction and storm water drainage systems.
He joined the City of Kwekwe in March 1992 where he held the position of director of works after being promoted from the position of Assistant Director in the Engineering Services Department from March 1992 to 4 April 1995.
He rejoined the City of Bulawayo as Assistant Director of Engineering Services (Roads) in 1995 to 2008 where he also acted as a Deputy Director of Engineering Services (Water) from 2005 to 2008.
In 2009-2010, he worked as Project Manager responsible for capacity building of low-capacity Municipalities with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).
He was appointed as Director of Engineering Services for the City of Bulawayo from 1 July 2010 and held that position with distinction until his untimely death on December 30 last year.