THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has acceded to a request by the family of the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo to exempt his Pelandaba house and a museum built in his honour from paying rates.

By NQOBANI NDLOVU

The museum is located at Nkomo’s Matsheumhlophe residence.

The resolution to scrap the rates followed a request by MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa to the MDC T-led council “to ensure that the museum is upgraded to a level of a strategic national institution that does not have to pay rates to the local authority.”

Chamisa visited the museum on the day the MDC Alliance was having a rally in Bulawayo.

“The Nkomo brand is a towering brand that must be accorded veneration by all of us, especially the local authority that we control. Sparing such an institution the obligation to pay rates will be the city’s own humble way of paying tribute to the mammoth and indefatigable national brand that was Joshua Nkomo,” Chamisa said at the time.

Latest council minutes of the finance and development committee show that Nkomo’s family has since 2016 been begging BCC for exemption from paying rates for the museum and Pelandaba house.

“The two houses had outstanding balances for rates and other charges as at April 2018 amounting to $8 806,60,” the BCC minutes read.

“Thereafter, it was resolved (i) that the request for rates exemption for Lot 1 of S/DA of Farm 11 Matsheumhlophe in respect of A/C ref.55320204 be acceded to and (ii) that the recommendation of the Chamber Secretary (Sikhangele Zhou-Valuation) not to accede to the application for rates exemption for the Pelandaba house be not supported and instead the house be exempted from paying rates for the property and the Trustee to pay the outstanding balance (amounting to $8 806,60 + $28,06) in affordable monthly instalments.”

Nkomo passed away in 1999.

According to the minutes, the house was divided on the issue of exempting Nkomo’s family from paying rates, with those in opposition arguing it will set a bad precedent.

Councillors in support of the motion said Nkomo deserved respect as “he was not just an ordinary person, he was an icon”.

“The deputy mayor (councillor Gift Banda) concurred with councillor Mlandu Ncube’s view, adding that in South Africa, iconic people were treated with respect and dignity. The late Joshua Nkomo deserved that kind of respect and history should be preserved.”