CIVIc Society and Churches Joint Forum (CSCJF) activists drawn from Bulawayo and Gweru yesterday besieged Bulawayo City Council offices and the Holiday Inn Hotel — where Gweru city councillors are attending a training programme — to protest against the practice of conducting such programmes out of their jurisdictions at ratepayers’ expense.
BY SILAS NKALA
Councillors from Bulawayo left the city on Monday to attend a three-day induction training programme in Victoria Falls, while those from Gweru arrived in Bulawayo on Sunday to camp at the Bulawayo Holiday Inn for similar training.
Harare councillors were said to be attending a similar meeting in Mutare.
CSCJF Midlands coordinator Innocent Netanyawo travelled all the way to Bulawayo to doorstep their councillors and demand that they leave the hotel and go back to Gweru.
The protest was supported by the CSCJF national coordinator, Abigail Mupambi and Bulawayo coordinator Max Mkandla, who also joined the protest.
The activists first went to Holiday Inn where, on arrival, were told by the hotel officials that the councillors from Gweru had since checked out.
“From our research, it is established that a lot of money has been spent here. While we are not against expenditure, it might also be reasonable for that money to be used in Gweru in the spirit of devolution,” Netanyawo said.
“Generally, there is the gospel that we are under austerity measures, but when we begin to see our councillors spending a lot of money 200km away from Gweru, we think it is financial indiscipline which discourages residents from paying rates.”
The activists had used their own funds to travel for the demonstrations, he said.
“They could have utilised Midlands State University lecture rooms for the training. We are not against the programme, but what we are speaking against is them going for training in luxurious places outside Gweru. We have heard the MDC people complaining that the government was spending a lot of money by sending huge delegations outside the country, but we have started seeing the MDC displaying similar characteristics,” he said.
Mupambi said the councillors, who belong to the MDC, were now showing signs of the extravagance that they always accused the Zanu PF government of.
“We have our Bulawayo councillors right now at some special hotel in Victoria Falls, and people are raising these issues, as CSCJF we cannot allow that to happen. We have the Harare councillors failing to find suitable accommodation in the capital city and they are in Mutare right now,” she said.
“We are not against the induction training, but we say spending money outside their jurisdiction is unfair to the ratepayers who are funding those expenses.”