Consult us more: residents tell councillor

Residents of ward 21 have expressed mixed feelings over the performance of their local councillor, Reuben Matengu (MDC-T). Some people accuse him of failing to consult them enough.

Residents who spoke to The Zimbabwean feel Matengu is not holding enough consultative meetings in the ward, which covers Tshabalala and Sizinda high density suburbs.

“I remember only one residents meeting which he called last year after the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority had disconnected electricity in most households. We need more of these meetings so that we know what is happening in council,” said Christopher Mhlanga, a vegetable vendor. He also felt that the councillor has not done a lot in assisting orphans and underprivileged children to access the Basic Education Assistance Module facility,

“A lot of children are not going to school because their parents or guardians cannot afford school fees. We want the councillor to identify these children and assist them in accessing this facility. We also want him to address the issue of mosquitoes as this is serious problem here,” he said.

Matengu said he had held several meetings with residents. “Whenever there is any urgent issue to be discussed or communicated, we have a meeting.

We send notices and letters to schools and churches. I know some people are saying we should call meetings every month, but you cannot call a meeting without an agenda,” he said.

On the issue of BEAM, Matengu said he had assisted a lot of children to access the funds.

“My ward has a lot of pensioners and orphans .Everyday my office is inundated with residents seeking BEAM assistance. I have recommended and will continue to recommend deserving beneficiaries to those responsible for disbursing the funds.

People should know that councillors do not have control over BEAM funds. We can only recommend and the recommendations can be rejected,” he said.

A resident, Charles Ndlovu, corroborated the councillor’s statement.

“Last year the councillor recommended my daughter for BEAM. But because of other more deserving cases she was left out. I think it is also unfair to blame councillors for poor service delivery when the residents themselves are not paying their rates to council. Residents and leaders should all play our role so that our area can develop,” said Ndlovu.

He said councillors throughout the country were working under very difficult circumstances due to the current economic hardships which have seen many industries closing down in Bulawayo.

A Sizinda resident, Winnet Masarakufa, said it was difficult to judge the performance of elected leaders in a coalition government where the parties have different policies.

“Generally our councillor has been doing well under very difficult situations. I have attended his meetings in Sizinda where he has been educating people on the need to conserve water so that their water bills are manageable. I have also seen him at funerals assisting bereaved families with food,” she said.

Under Matengu’s term of office, the ward of 4 963 households was last year honoured by the Zimbabwe Development Democracy Trust for coming up with community based programmes .

“Last year one of our community projects was judged to be the best among all the city’s 29 wards. We managed to mobilise the community and clean as well as cut grass at one of council clinics,” said Matengu.

On the issue of employment creation in the area, Matengu said the council was supporting a youth training centre, which offers carpentry, dress making, building and welding courses.

The council has also resolved to turn two of closed beer halls into flea markets and home industries. “Very soon council will demarcate the stands and residents will be allowed to operate their businesses at low cost rentals. It is our hope that this type of venture will boost the council’s coffers,” he said.

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