BY PATRICIA SIBANDA
BULAWAYO Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) secretary for administration Thembelani Dube has accused the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) of fraud after it asked housing stand beneficiaries to pay top-ups of US$6 000 six years after purchasing stands.
Dube said: “BCC has become a real estate fraudster, selling stands twice as is the case with Pumula South stands near Tshebetshebe School that were sold to residents in 2016 when the United States dollar (was dominant). The local authroity is now taking advantage of residents’ desperation to swindle them of their hard-earned cash,” Dube said.
“BPRA is aware of the behind-closed-doors negotiations that BCC is undertaking with beneficiaries of these areas.
“We are aware that they want beneficiaries to pay top-up fees amounting to US$6 000 over and above the full amounts they paid for the stands as per BCC directive. We condemn this and call upon BCC to hand over to beneficiaries their fully serviced stands.
Bulawayo is currently facing a huge housing problem with many residents in desperate need of decent accommodation. Thousands of home seekers are presently on the local authority’s 150 000 waiting list.
Dube said people’s dreams to own houses in Bulawayo would never be achieved because the local authority allegedly gave tenders to contractors to build sub-standard
“In order to meet the growing housing demand, BCC has in the past parcelled out virgin land to some contractors who have gone on to construct sub-standard houses” Dube said, adding that the standard and quality of life in such places as Sidojiwe and Burombo was deplorable because government had not invested enough into housing.
“BCC continues to use private contractors as an excuse for not delivering fully serviced stands. Self-trading with shelf companies and awarding of contracts to companies that either have no capacity or do not exist is at the centre of the housing problem. Residential stands in Pumula South, Magwegwe West Extension (along Intemba Road between Pumula North and Magwegwe West), Woodville, Tshabalala remain partially serviced,” Dube added.
Bulawayo mayor Solomon Mguni said the economic situation had made the local authority look like an enemy of residents.
“We can only achieve our dream if we pull together as residents. No one is spared from the harsh conditions that we find ourselves in; where the costs of goods and services are going up everyday; even in foreign currency.
“The city is ready to deal with each grievance from our esteemed residents, on a case-by-case basis. Our residents are a civilised people who know dispute resolution mechanisms that are in place and council is always open to deal with factual issues that affect our people,” Mguni said.