Bulawayo residents group demands asset disclosure by new city fathers

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

Bulawayo: A residents representative group has called on incoming city councillors to declare their assets and financial interests before assuming duty all in attempts to curb rampant corruption in the country’s second largest local authority.

The Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) wrote Tuesday to Town Clerk, Christopher Dube and Chamber secretary, Sikhangele Zhou demanding public disclosure of assets owned by the newly elected city fathers.

“As you may already know, Bulawayo has been in the spotlight in the recent past for numerous reasons, predominantly rampant corruption, and embezzlement of council funds, bribery as well as selling of council assets like stands at concessionary prices as well as flaunting of tender procedures.

“While efforts have been made to curb corruption, most of the responses have been reactionary and counterproductive,” reads part of the letter signed by the residents association’s acting coordinator, Emmanuel Ndlovu.

“Against this foregoing and in line with Section 198 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which stipulates that senior public officials should declare their assets, BPRA is calling upon you to declare your income assets and financial interests as a matter of principle.”

Ndlovu said once such a declaration was made, registers of interests should be developed and made accessible to residents.

“The registers of assets and interests should then be up-dated annually and as and when a change in your assets occurs and these shall be publicly accessible.

“BPRA believes that such a step shall be a game changer in the fight against corruption and that you can be Bulawayo’s number 1 anti-corruption champion,” he said.

The acting coordinator said the concept of assets and interests registers was not only new in the country but the practice has been successfully implemented in countries such as South Africa and Rwanda.

Former Bulawayo Deputy Mayor, Gift Banda and four other councillors were two years ago suspended by then Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Saviour Kasukuwere over a slew of allegations involving underhand dealings and rampant corruption.

However, Banda and the other three councillors were cleared of any wrong doing while former ward 21 councillor Reuben Matengu was dismissed from the local authority last year after a Government instituted investigation found him guilty of gross misconduct.

The former councillor was accused of selling a residential stand in South World which he had bought under a special facility which gave him a considerable discount in the purchase but was not supposed to resell it.