By Sharon Buwerimwe
Bulawayo residents are against the proposal by the city council to establish solar projects at city cemeteries as they feel the project will infringe on their traditional beliefs.
In a meeting organised by the Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association, Bulawayo Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube said not all cemeteries would be used as solar farms.
Mr Dube said the idea of solar farms was implemented in South Africa where a car park was used as a solar project.
“We were approached by investors. It was not an idea that emanated from the council chambers and not all cemeteries will have these solar farm projects and we have deliberately left Northend cemetery because it is reserved for the city’s luminaries,” he said.
Mr Dube said when he got into office in 2016, he found the Cemetery Solar Farm Project Proposal in place but they decided to put it aside because they had to first consult stakeholders and residents.
The Town Clerk said he would organise a meeting at City Hall where he would include other stakeholders so that council can conclude the issue.
However, residents were against the proposal.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association spokesperson, Mr Kelebone Khabo said council should not make decisions to impress investors as they should consider residents’ beliefs as Africans.
“In the African tradition, graves are very sacred places. Why should the council listen to investors who don’t know anything about our culture?” he asked.
Mr Chrispen Ndlovu, a Ward 27 resident was concerned that the solar project at cemeteries would only benefit the investors as they would employ their own people.
“These investors are employing their own people who are not Bulawayo residents and we are not benefiting as a city,” said Mr Ndlovu.
Mrs Thubelihle Nyathi said the solar project would result in residents being denied entry into cemeteries at certain times for security reasons.
“There will be tight security where the investors will need to look after their solar project. We will be given a timetable on when to visit our cemeteries. This is how whites ruled us. We as Bulawayo have to make sure that our voice is heard too. We should not be dominated by these investors who are going to use our land,” said Mrs Nyathi.
Recently, the BCC said it planned to embark on an ambitious project to turn its cemeteries into solar farms as the local authority pushes the concept of multi-use of land.
According to the latest council report, the city’s director of engineering services, Engineer Simela Dube, reported that there was a growing demand for land in the city hence the need for the local authority to come up with innovative ways of land use.
Bulawayo has seven cemeteries, namely; Luveve Old, Luveve Extension, Luveve 3, West Park, Hyde Park, Athlone and Lady Stanley. Only two of these cemeteries — Luveve Extension and Athlone — are operational and Lady Stanley is reserved for the city’s luminaries while the others have been decommissioned. The Chronicle.