Mashudu Netsianda Senior Reporter
VICE PRESIDENT Constantino Chiwenga yesterday castigated Bulawayo City Council (BCC) for awarding a tender for its new parking system to a foreign-owned company, Tendy Three International (TTI), instead of contracting a local company.
The new parking system, which has made the cost of parking in Bulawayo expensive, has forced motorists to abandon parking bays in the city centre’s new parking zone where drivers must pay US$1 to park for 30 minutes.
Parking in Zone One, a prime parking area covering Leopold Takawira Avenue to 11th Avenue and Fife Street to Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Street came into force yesterday with motorists avoiding parking there due to the US$1 per 30 minutes parking fee.
According to the local authority, Zone Two where motorists will be parting with US$1 to park for an hour is yet to be operationalised.
The parking fees are paid in local currency at the prevailing official exchange rate which currently stands at US$1:ZW$127.
The new system is implemented by BCC in partnership with a South African company, Tendy Three International (TTI), under a six-year build, operate and transfer framework.
The local authority will receive 30 percent of revenue, while TTI will take 70 percent. Addressing thousands of Zanu PF supporters during a rally at Isilwane Youth Centre in Old Pumula suburb to drum up support for the ruling party candidates ahead of the March 26 by-elections, VP Chiwenga, who is also the Second Secretary of the ruling party, blasted BCC for shunning local companies. He said it did not make sense for council to entrust the collection of revenue from parking bays to a foreign-owned firm, which would in turn not plough back to the local community.
“Our good people always pay to secure parking bays for their vehicles in the city centre. The irony here is that a foreign-owned company has been entrusted to collect the revenue from parking bays,” said the Vice-President, amid thunderous cheers from jubilant Zanu PF party faithful.
VP Chiwenga said there is a need to empower citizens and entrust them with such ventures for the common good.
“Clearly there is no guarantee that the revenue collected is ploughed back to improve the lives of our people. Our position is that such tenders should be awarded to local people in order to empower them and develop a collective sense of ownership and responsibility to run such businesses,” he said.
“At least these poor developments only go to show the extent to which this council (BCC) is not people-centric. It is high time that we said enough is enough through the thundering voice of the ballot.”
VP Chiwenga urged Bulawayo residents to vote the opposition out of council in the coming by-elections.
He said BCC including other urban councils run by the opposition have dismally failed the electorate.
“We are saddened by the manner in which our cities and towns have been run down by opposition-led councils. These councils have betrayed the trust bestowed upon them by the people, ostensibly by both deliberate commission and omission,” said the VP.
“Just like all externally-handled outfits would do, the opposition political parties were made to believe the fallacy that poor service delivery can be a lethal weapon to agitate the people against their Government and ultimately effect regime change. What nonsense!”
The Vice-President said through its ineptitude, BCC has contributed to the economic collapse of the city, which was once the country’s major industrial hub.
“Here in Bulawayo, for instance, the city council used to own and run numerous strategic business units as part of diversification, so that they do not solely depend on rates for revenue generation to spur economic growth and development in the city,” he said.
VP Chiwenga noted that some suburbs such as Emakhandeni, Entumbane, Magwegwe, Nkulumane and Pumula were built from resources mobilised through business ventures run by BCC such as the once thriving beer halls.
“Such strategic economic interventions were crucial social safety nets for the people. The businesses created both employment and recreation for the people,” he said.
“Is it not a shame that the current opposition-led councils have selfishly decided to rent out the revenue streams to themselves and changed their use? Where is their conscience?”
VP Chiwenga said due to their failure to run local authorities, opposition parties should not be entrusted with national governance.
He said roads under council jurisdiction were no longer safe for both human and vehicular traffic.
“This is why the central Government has decided to repair and reconstruct roads through devolution funds and other resources such as the Emergence Road Rehabilitation Programme. Here in Bulawayo, we have already started with Siyepambili Drive and we are also seized with upgrading our trunk roads, including the Bulawayo-Harare highway,” said VP Chiwenga.
“We will soon work on the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway.”
Government has just allocated BCC nearly $800 million towards road maintenance. The Second Republic is funding most of the major rehabilitation projects through the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP) 2 which President Mnangagwa launched last year.
About 75 percent of the city’s roads have outlived their lifespan and need to be rehabilitated and the local authority requires about US$700 million to fix the 2 400km road network.
It has become a nightmare driving on most of the city’s roads due to the poor road network.
The Zanu PF Second Secretary said they were also aware that BCC has farms in the peri-urban environs of the city, which used to be massive sources of employment for locals.
“The sad story is that the farms have been parcelled and rented out to council employees. We need to restore sanity and we are saying Bulawayo should return to its past glory as the City of Kings and Queens, and the time is now,” said VP Chiwenga.
He also queried the rationale behind BCC’s decision to allow a private company to do quarry mining at the doorsteps of residents in Pumula North,
“Is this just a case of sheer malice, poor management practices or being unethical? One wonders why the council is not sensitive to the plight of the people to stop this dangerous project, which is destroying people’s houses each time there is an explosion. This kind of madness must stop forthwith.”
The Vice-President noted that the current scenario in Bulawayo, which used to be a smart city, depicts a city that is fast degenerating from its lofty standards towards becoming a has-been.
“This is not what we want. There used to be serviceable and suitable refuse collection trucks, which religiously collected garbage from the industrial sites and residential areas. In that same context, the council used to contract Monarch Steel for the supply of bins, which was also a viable employment and revenue generation arrangement, but all that is gone,” he said.
VP Chiwenga said those purpose-built refuse collection trucks have been replaced by personal trucks thrust into business through a corrupt tendering process.
“That is how the councillors from the opposition political parties behave once they have access to power. To them, public interest comes after personal interest. Good governance has never been their concern, and what is in their DNA is just opposing the sake of it,” he said