Residents Voices – Issue 71

Police stop residents’ leadership training

Police this weekend stopped a BPRA leadership training workshop at Tshabalala Hall, confiscating attendance registers and training modules alleging that the meeting was not cleared by the police.

The training was stopped shortly after lunch, half way through the module, as police officers suddenly arrived and demanded to know who had sanctioned the meeting and why residents were being taught specifically on local governance issues and not in other areas.

A member of the BPRA executive council Ms NtombizodwaKhumalo, who was facilitating at the workshop and is also the Vice Chairperson of BPRA, was asked to furnish the officers with details of the programme and its donors.

When they police could not get any satisfactory answers they instructed Khumalo to report to the police station on Monday morning where they further told her to come back with the coordinator of the BPRA to answer more question.

BPRA frequently holds training meetings with residents in all of Bulawayo’s 29 wards covering various areas of concern to them like the Environment Act, Gender Budgeting and Local Governance laws amongst others.

BCC Imposes housing project on Pumula Residents

Pumula residents residing at St Peters, Robert Sinyoka and Methodist communities have been left helpless after Bulawayo city council officials once again told them that 197 families from Killerney and Trenance squatter camps would be brought to live amongst them as soon as an International Organisation of Migration (IOM) housing project is completed.

In February, the same residents rejected a proposal by the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) in conjunction with the IOMto resettle squatters from these areas, sighting that they too have been awaiting stands from BCC in the same area since 1998. They also raised concerns that the project could lead to a high crime rate and conflict in the area as most people living in the squatter camps are unemployed and not registered as citizens of Zimbabwe. While the project still aims to settle 197 families, nothing was said in the latest meeting held last Friday (18 May 2012) on whether the project still aimed to benefit 15 families already living in squalid conditions in Pumula.

In the latest meeting addressed by the Mayor of Bulawayo and officials from IOM, truckloads of beneficiaries from Killarney and Trenence were bussed in to be addressed together with their new neighbours who were told that there was no going back on the project. Although no mention was made of what would be done about the more than decade long request for stands by the older residents in the previous meeting the City Council Director of Housing and Community Services, assured residents that there was abundant space in the area and had also promised the that land would be allocated to them in the future. He had also assured residents that the people to be resettled in the area had been vetted and would pose no threat.

However, the BPRA chairperson for ward 17 said it was said that since the last meeting people had been cowed into accepting something the community as a whole had taken a stand to reject. He said this time the residents were not even given an opportunity to air their views to the mayor but just listened as they were told that new home owners would be moving into the area.

While Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) acknowledges efforts being made by the local authority to resettle squatters and commends its strategic partnerships with donor organisations in the quest to improve service provision in the city, the association believes that this should be done after wide consultations with residents. The association also believes that the council has been allocating stands to people outside of its housing waiting list, which now runs beyond a hundred thousand names, thereby leaving many residents who have followed proper procedures and put their faith in the council stranded. BPRA calls on the city fathers and mothers to seriously take steps to consult and engagement residents on the housing issue before it blows out of control.

Regards

Information Department

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association

Bus. Tel: +263 9 61196

Cell: +263 773 788 183

Website: www.bprazim.org

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