GWERU: The City of Gweru which is currently embroiled in a war of words over priorities with resident pressure groups over the commissioning of a Landcruiser VX and two other vehicles versus prioritizing service delivery has taken time to respond to mismanagement allegations during a State of the city address held at town house yesterday.
In his address, Gweru Mayor Councilor Josiah Makombe said the vehicle in question was neither bought specifically for the Mayor as perceived nor for luxurious purposes at the expense of service delivery but as a solution to avoid losses that would have been incurred by disposing the vehicle.
He also highlighted that the other two service vehicles were not purchased from council coffers saying they ‘had been delivered to the City through partners who had been asked to provide service vehicles as part of honoring development agreements.’
“The car in question has resulted in debate due to various mis-information circulating around. The car was not bought recently but was acquired back in 2018. When we came in, we thought it was not proper to acquire such vehicles at the expense of service delivery.
“We then, accompanied by the acting Town Clerk; Vakai Chikwekwe made consultations over how it could be disposed but realized it would be a loss to council as the supplier said it would not be at the same cost as we bought it,” Makombe said.
“The other option was auction which also indicated to bigger losses. Not using it and let it rot in the warehouse was further an unmanageable loss and thus a decision to have it as an executive pool vehicle was made, not specifically for the Mayor or Town Clerk but senior council officials on duty,” he added.
Journalists however still questioned why council failed to continuously update residents on developments citing that when the car made headlines previously, council ‘sang from the same hymn book’ with residents that the car should be disposed.
Makombe also took time to shed light on the coming of City Park saying it was a contract meant to capacitate council before expiry of contract pointing out that it would help the City manage losses currently being experienced and also get council the much-needed experience and resources needed to manage the parking business.
“Everything was done above board and this a beneficial contract which will give City of Gweru the needed experience and resources to manage parking business when the contract expires. This is actually a beneficial project like any other project at hand including renovation of the aerodrome and market stalls,” he further said.
Residents have however said the address was mere politicking statement and vowed to converge at council, ‘not to demonstrate’ on 1 March 2021 but to seek further clarity on the issues at question.
“Our questions were not answered. We need proper answers that indicate transparency. The problem really is residents are never consulted for which we are their employers. They are serving us.
“The issue of the car, if they had consulted us, we would have maybe preferred maybe a loss for the funds to be immediately channeled to service delivery but they made the decision alone. As for the City Park deal, they may brag that they did everything above board but don’t we have able people here to take charge of such developments,” questioned Gweru Residents and Ratepayers director Cornelia Selipiwe.
City of Gweru however hinted of a Council-Residents Indaba tipped for next week on a date yet to be announced.