The Bulawayo City Council has appointed caretaker councillors in eight of the city’s wards that fell vacant after the representatives elected in 2018 were recalled by MDC-T two months ago.
The Thokozani Khupe-led MDC-T recalled eight MDC Alliance councillors from Bulawayo claiming they were no longer representing the interests of the party.
Khupe has also recalled several MDC Alliance councillors and MPs across the country citing similar reasons.
Before the recalls in Bulawayo, the MDC Alliance was in control of 28 wards while Zanu PF has one councillor. There is also a vacant seat in the city following the death of Ward 8 councillor Ronia Mudara in July this year.
Bulawayo deputy mayor Mlandu Ncube confirmed the appointment of the caretaker councillors.
“As council, after what happened where some of our colleague councillors were recalled, it left the wards that were represented by those councillors vacant. So the council had no option because residents’ needs were supposed to be attended to.
“So, as council, we sat down and appointed the caretaker councillors,” he said.
The deputy mayor said the council had assigned councillors closer to the affected wards to assist the vacant areas while waiting for by-elections to be held next year.
“The criteria used were that the next ward councillor takes care of it. For instance, in Njube-Lobengula ward, a councillor from Ward 14, is the caretaker while Ward 13 councillor is in Ward 9. We are trying to close the gap between council and residents in those respective wards because we love all the residents,” added Mlandu.
Speaking to NewZimbabwe.com, Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) gender officer, Abigail Siziva said her organisation recently conducted an assessment study on the implications of the councillors’ recalls in the affected wards.
Siziva said during the outreach, the residents told BPRA, the council had appointed caretaker councillors in all the affected wards.
“By the time we spoke to the residents, they already had caretaker councillors. However, they are saying it’s not as effective although the caretaker councillors are trying their best,” she said.
“This is because the caretaker councillors also man their own wards and coming to the other ward means they will do that during their extra time, but currently service delivery issues are very high and residents will need to constantly communicate with the city council.”
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who doubles as health minister, two months ago banned all pending by-elections citing the Covid-19 outbreak.