BULAWAYO – The Zimbabwe Republic Police Wednesday sanctioned a demonstration against opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) dominated Bulawayo City Council in a bizarre departure from their usual embargo on public protests.
This was seen in dozens of protesting Bulawayo residents picketing City Hall to express their disgruntlement over what they felt was the local authority’s faulty billing system and poor service delivery.
Police have blocked many protests planned by activists to register their disgruntlement over government institutions.
However, it was ironically easier for the country’s law enforcement agency to issue the green light for about a hundred residents in the country’s second largest city to protest against a local authority that is in the hands of Zanu PF rivals.
Bulawayo Central Police Station is just under a hundred mitres from City Hall, where the protest took place.
The opposition has often demanded impartiality from the country’s law enforcement agency amid signs of bias towards the ruling party.
Meanwhile, in an interview with ZimLive, Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association secretary Thembelani Dube demanded that Bulawayo city authorities desist from overlooking the residents’ grievances.
“We would like the city council to stop being stubborn, arrogant and learn to listen to residents’ inputs for the city to move forward,” he said.
“People are expressing their discontent over the issue of billing especially after the rebasing of USD; the amounts are too high.
“Most people cannot afford them. This leads to people defaulting on their payments. If you check, in the last five to eight months, people have been receiving high bills in RTGS. This is why people have resorted to protesting.”
The protesters were waving placards and chanting songs in denunciation of city authorities.
They also delivered a petition with a list of demands from city administrators.
“Residents are also concerned by the faulty billing system which has seen residents receiving exorbitant rates based on inaccurate estimates.
“The undersigned residents hereby implore Bulawayo City Councillors and the City Council Management to revisit their figures and billing methodology,” read part of the petition.
Residents also lamented failure by the council to fix roads, collect garbage on time and conduct consultation meetings before hiking rates.
There was no immediate word from any of the managers at City Hall on the residents’ demands.