By NQOBANI NDLOVU
BULAWAYO mayor Solomon Mguni yesterday said the local authority was forging ahead with a deliberate local empowerment policy where local jobs and tenders would be reserved for locals to ensure a quick turnaround of the city’s fortunes.
Mguni, however, said “this was not a blank cheque” as the empowerment policy was merit-driven and not discriminatory against deserving companies from outside the city, but in line with devolution as enshrined in the Constitution.
Mguni told journalists that the initiative was part of the pledge made by the MDC Alliances when it assumed office on September 7, 2018.
“I am glad to say that we have a local empowerment policy for the City of Bulawayo which relates to our inauguration speech of September 7, 2018, where we spoke of Bulawayo jobs and tenders for Bulawayo people,” Mguni said.
“This should not be viewed as discrimination against foreign or external companies, but a move to grow the Bulawayo economy and its gross domestic product.”
He added: “My administration firmly believes in local empowerment and devolution, as such, we believe that development can only happen when you adopt deliberate local affirmative action plans that ensure that money made locally is spent locally in terms of tenders and employment opportunities. There are lots of things that we need to correct as an administration.”
Devolution is provided for under Chapter 12 of the Constitution with section 268 of the charter providing for the establishment of provincial councils in the country’s 10 provinces.
However, to date, there is no enabling Act to operationalise devolution despite government approving principles of the Provincial Councils and Administration (Amendment) Bill.
Critics argue that, Bulawayo, once termed the industrial hub of the country, lags behind in development because of, among others, failure to implement devolution.
A survey of Bulawayo’s industrial area of Belmont and closer to the city reveals that the once roaring factories are now shells of their former selves.