Exclusion from tender committee riles Bulawayo councillors



Auxilia Katongomara, Chronicle Reporter
BULAWAYO City Council managers and councillors are at loggerheads over a proposal to exclude councillors from a committee that deals with the awarding of tenders and allocation of stands.

According to a council report, management says the subcommittee should be disbanded and its duties must be transferred to council staff as part of measures to fight corruption.

Council management argues that policy makers should not be involved in the awarding of tenders or allocation of stands.

The councillors are however opposed to the proposed changes which they say are counter-productive.

The terms of reference of the subcommittee at the centre of the dispute include allocation of commercial and industrial sites or stands and determination of tenders for major industrial or commercial developments.

Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube sought advice from the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing on the matter and he was advised that it was inappropriate for councillors to be members of the subcommittee.

“It had been felt that the Committee and Council would set the guiding principles and policies that would guide administration to carry out this task.

“The Town Clerk had further consulted with the Ministry on the issue and he had been advised that the placing of the allocations on policymakers was inappropriate and corrective measures should be taken,” reads the report.

“This is standard practice in all local authorities throughout the country. Investigations in the recent past on allegations of mismanagement in council had picked some loopholes emanating from direct involvement of policy makers in the allocation processes,” argued the Town Clerk.

The report says there is a recommendation for the Town Clerk to set up a committee of officials to allocate stands.

Councillors, according to the report, were of the view that the subcommittee should be retained in its present form as it played a crucial role in the development of the city.

“The subcommittee had been put in place many years ago by council which in its wisdom then had felt the need to focus on and streamline the allocation of stands and premises for development in the city. This policy had been maintained by the various successive councils over the years and had in fact contributed to the city’s successes and accolades as the best run council in the country,” said the councillors.

They argued that the subcommittee had carried out its mandate fairly and transparently with staff involvement over the years and changing the policy would be counterproductive.

The Town Clerk however said that the general feeling was that allocation of municipal stands and premises was more of an administrative function than a policy issue.

In an interview yesterday, Mr Dube said the subcommittee had not been disbanded as there was a disagreement between the Finance Committee and management over the matter that had to be dealt with first.

“If you look at it from the corporate governance point of view you don’t expect councillors to come up with policies and then implement them,” said Mr Dube.

He said council wanted to ensure separation of duties and roles between management and policy makers.

“All what we are saying is we want separation of duties so that there is no one person who starts the process from the beginning right up to the end without any checks and balances,” said Mr Dube.