Fungi Kwaramba in BULAWAYO
MINISTERS and Government officials should talk less and focus more on delivering on projects that raise people’s standard of living, including tackling key issues such as water provision and the emotive Gukarahundi, the President has said.
Yesterday, President Mnangagwa led a delegation of ministers and senior Government officials that met with leaders of the Matabeleland Collective, councillors and management of Bulawayo City Council at State House.
The meeting was part of ongoing efforts to deliberate on issues affecting the region.
The President, who was accompanied by Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe, Minister of State Security Owen Ncube, Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo and Minister of State for Bulawayo Metropolitan Province Judith Ncube, met with representatives from the Matabeleland Collective and Bulawayo City Council separately in closed-door meetings.
Addressing the media after the separate meetings — first with officials from Bulawayo City Council and with the Matabeleland Collective led by Jenni Williams afterwards — Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Mr Nick Mangwana said the President gave assurances that Government would focus more on delivering and engaging communities.
This, Mr Mangwana said, would see the roll out of an exercise to issue birth and death certificates to victims of Gukurahundi, efforts to complete the Zambezi Water Project, implement devolution and tackle corruption, a cancer that has spread to rural district councils.
“Today’s meeting (Saturday) continued with the spirit of dialogue between the Matabeleland Collective, where the President heard the issues affecting the region and where a progress report on the implementation of agreed resolutions was agreed,” said Mr Mangwana.
Among issues that were discussed and which relevant ministries are expected to expeditiously implement in line with the President’s thrust on walking the talk are increasing the participation of women in Government and Parliament and coming up with solutions to water challenges faced by residents.
The President met Bulawayo Mayor Councillor Solomon Mguni, town clerk Christopher Dube and city engineer Sikhangele Zhou, where the three outlined the challenges that they are facing.
Although well-documented, with successive elected councils aware of the water problems facing Bulawayo, there has not been any major improvement, something that the President committed to tackle.
Residents are going for weeks without water, forcing them to turn to unsafe water sources.
Just last week, council compounded the situation by suspending the water rationing timetable without notice, which attracted the ratepayers’ ire.
“To that end, he directed that stakeholders in this issue, who include Bulawayo City Council; the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement; ZINWA (Zimbabwe National Water Authority) to come up with a detailed and comprehensive proposal to solve the water challenges.
“This proposal should outline the major challenges and proposed solutions thereof in a format depicting activities, the cost and overall budget in three phases and this should be brought to his Excellency’s attention as soon as possible in the interest of bringing water to this great city,” Mr Mangwana added.
In an interview after the meeting, BCC town clerk Mr Dube said the meeting with the President was reassuring. “Initially we were not part of this meeting, but we were invited through the Matabeleland Collective, who felt we should take advantage of the President Mnangagwa’s presence in the city to highlight the water challenges. What we noted is that the President is fully aware of the situation in the city but he now has a greater appreciation of the situation on the ground.
“We will now work on the proposal and send it to the President so that the budget we require is released as a matter of urgency, and we start working on the identified water augmentation projects,” he said.
Since last year, the President has taken it upon himself to engage stakeholders on matters affecting the country and he has thus far walked the talk as he moves to bring to closure issues such as Gukurahundi and ensure that living standards improve.
The Government delegation included the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Aaron Nhepera, Permanent Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Virginia Mabhiza and the acting Registrar-General Henry Machiri.