Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Senior Reporter
Bulawayo residents have been urged to elect mature, intelligent, grounded and capable people as councillors in the March 26 by-elections to return the city to its former glory days as one of the best administered and cleanest cities in the continent.
Voters in nine wards will elect new councillors and residents have been urged to settle for candidates that will help spearhead service delivery.
The Wards 3, 8, 9, 12, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 26 fell vacant following the death of one councillor and the recalling of eight others by their party.
Ward 8 Councillor Ronniah Mudara died in June 2021 after a short illness while ex-deputy mayor and Ward 3 Councillor Tinashe Kambarami was recalled together with Ward 9 Councillor Donald Mabutho.
Also recalled were Clayton Zana (Ward 19), Tinevimbo Maphosa (Ward 210, Ernest Rafamoyo (Ward 20), Lilian Mlilo (Ward 12), Concilia Mlalazi (Ward 18) and Norman Hlabano (Ward 26).
Former Bulawayo Mayor Cde Joshua Malinga bemoaned the decline in the standards at what was once the country’s best run local authorities.
He said during his tenure as mayor, only dedicated, grounded and respectable residents could assume office as councillors.
“Councillors should be dedicated, selfless and represent everybody. They should be humble, loving and people, who are eager to represent all residents, irrespective of tribe, race or creed,” said Cde Malinga.
“We do not expect tribalists to run the council as all people should benefit from its services. Well educated and grounded people should be elected come March 26 because egotistical leaders will fail to revive Bulawayo.”
He said councillors should be well versed with the economic activities of the city and be in touch with the reality of Bulawayo residents.
“During my time we never competed in politics as councillors, but we put our skills, knowledge and abilities forward in developing Bulawayo. We were not selfish and we had our own money, which helped us to serve with dignity as our aspirations weren’t driven by greed for money and gain,” added Cde Malinga.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) co-ordinator Mr Emmanuel Ndlovu said candidates should have a proven track record of community leadership.
“Of course, the by-election will be nothing, but a dress rehearsal of 2023. However, as residents we think there is a need to start tying processes together with outcomes and look at the bigger picture. Service delivery is the game changer and the electorate must take the election seriously,” said Mr Ndlovu.
“There are a lot of lessons to draw from distinguished councillors who have gone through BCC. Education alone is not enough; what is important are leadership skills, especially in crisis situations like water problems, service delivery problems and the economic crisis because all these point to the need for viable leadership,” he added.
Political analyst from the African Leaders Network Mr Tedious Ncube said the forthcoming by-election should be approached with a clear view of where Bulawayo is coming from.
“Over the past years we have seen people taking over local councils just because they belong to a certain political party. If you look closely, their rhetoric or political message is not based on real issues which are public policy issues, service delivery issues, governance or important issues that benefit the common man on the street. It doesn’t help to just vote for someone because they belong to a certain party, but we should look at an individual’s’ understanding of policy.”
He said developmental conversations, even in local authorities, are a must so that residents fully benefit from devolution.
Matabeleland Human Rights Institute co-ordinator Mr Khumbulani Maphosa said potential councillors should be individuals that are concerned with ensuring the protection and promotion of human rights.
“People should not vote for parties, but individuals who have a proven track record of having the concerns of people at heart and those who will ensure democracy and social accountability are upheld. We want councillors that will prioritise the development of the people with an economic mindset that will lure investors and understand their devolution mandate,” said Mr Maphosa.
“They should stand for the glory of Bulawayo and take the city to where it used to be as the glory of Africa, the clean city and the hub of economic development,” he added. — @thamamoe