New Byo mayor: a myriad of challenges

The newly elected mayor of Bulawayo, Martin Kizack Moyo, is a war veteran and a staunch MDC-T politician.

Martin Kizack Moyo: We do not want this ‘us and them’ kind of situation.”
Martin Kizack Moyo: We do not want this ‘us and them’ kind of situation.”

Contrary to widespread perceptions that war veterans shun the MDC-T because of its assumed links to the West, Moyo’s political affiliation and election to such a powerful leadership post show that not all former liberation war fighters are aligned to Zanu (PF).

Moyo (60), unanimously elected mayor two weeks ago, is a prominent educationist and a qualified accountant. By taking over the leadership of a city in a crisis, he has to search hard for lasting solutions to a myriad of challenges – ranging from perennial water shortages to the closure of most businesses in what was once Zimbabwe’s industrial hub.

Tasked with the overall welfare of an estimated 1.5 million residents, the majority without jobs and sliding daily further into grinding poverty, Moyo says he is undaunted by what lies ahead, as long as he receives the support and co-operation of the city’s residents and businesses.

“The council will consult extensively with residents on priority areas,” he told The Zimbabwean in an exclusive interview. The revival of closed companies would be among his top priorities, together with the rehabilitation of a collapsed road network, although he admitted: “In terms of fixing sewer reticulation and water problems, I think the previous council did a good job.”

He said the council was ready to create an environment conducive for the smooth operation of business.

“We will make sure that our policies and by laws are sensitive to the needs of industry and commerce. This is one way we can assist the sector. One of the immediate things which we are going to do is to consult the owners of the companies and hear their expectations from us,” he said.

On water supplies, Moyo regretted that the last dam built in the city was 37 years ago. At that time, Bulawayo’s population was a mere fraction of what it is today. The city’s main water sources are heavily silted due to age and poverty-induced gold panning in the surrounding feeder streams.

According to water experts the city urgently needs a new water source to meet increased demand. In addition, the central sewer system is over a century old and in desperate need of a facelift.

Raw sewerage spills from burst pipes often contaminate the water catchment area, polluting the little supplies available. This means a rise in the cost of water purification before use.

The city’s road network is now in a state of disrepair, with gaping potholes, vandalized sign posts and destroyed road verges.

On the recent government directive to scrap debts owed to local authorities by residents, Moyo said: “While residents have been relieved by the directive, they should now reciprocate this gesture by keeping a clean slate on their bills. They should now pay their bills in time so that council can provide quality services.”

Bulawayo lost $46 million to the directive, issued on the eve of the July 31 election. The immediate result of this Zanu (PF) political move was that the City could not pay its workers.

On his relationship with Ignatious Chombo, the Zanu (PF) Minister of Local Government who, in the past, has been accused of victimizing opposition-led councils, Moyo said:

“We do not have any problems with the Minister. We will try to do our work professionally. I am sure if the city succeeds it will be a feather in Chombo’s hat. We do not want this ‘us and them’ kind of situation.”

Biography

Moyo trained as a teacher at the United College of Education in Bulawayo before crossing the border to Zambia where he joined the Liberation struggle.

In 1980 he resumed his teaching profession and taught mathematics at a number of schools before he was appointed the headmaster of Neushome Secondary School in Hwange.

He resigned from teaching in 2000 and joined a local insurance company as a financial advisor in 2004. He joined the MDC -T in 2003 and rose through the ranks to become the party’s treasurer for Ward 3 in Bulawayo.

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