By Nqobile Tshili
The theft at Bulawayo Mayor Councillor Solomon Mguni’s residence in Nkulumane suburb has triggered a debate on mayor’s security with some residents saying he should stay at a council house guarded by council security as is the case in other cities and towns.
Thieves broke into Clr Mguni’s home on Wednesday night and stole US$350, a car battery and his identity documents from his car.
The theft occurred at his house in Nkulumane suburb.
Last year a thief broke into Bulawayo Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube’s home but he managed to foil the intruder’s attempts.
In light of the break-in incidents at council officials’ homes, local authority officials have lobbied that there be guards at the Mayor’s house.
They also argue that the mayor should live in a mayoral residence provided by the city where he can even conduct some of the council business.
Bulawayo Deputy Mayor Clr Mlandu Ncube said the theft at the mayor’s residence should force a change of policy in terms of protection and living conditions of someone serving in the mayor’s office.
“The break-in and theft at the mayor’s private residence and from his car is a wake-up call to us as city authorities and residents alike. There should be a policy on the protection and security of mayors and other council officials in Zimbabwe. It’s no longer about Bulawayo only,” said Clr Ncube.
He said the mayor as the number one resident should be provided with a 24-hour security at his home and should be staying in an official mayoral residence.
“Remember there was also a break-in at the former Mayor Aldermen M K Moyo’s residence in the last term.”
Clr Ncube said residents should not resort to crime no matter the challenges they are facing.
Mr Dube said it was disturbing that daring thieves broke into the mayor’s home.
“This is not the first time for this to happen, thieves broke into Alderman Martin Moyo’s residence when he was mayor. I tried to push for the mayor to have an official residence which has security 24 hours but this was rejected by council.
The other councils such as the Victoria Falls City Council have official mayoral residences which are guarded,” said Mr Dube.
He said when he proposed to buy an official residence for the mayor in 2017, council could then afford a house selling for as much as US$100 000.
“A mayor is someone who is dignified and it doesn’t make sense for such a senior council official to be exposed to thieves. This affects the city’s reputation. The mayor being a senior council official can make unpopular decisions which may make him a target of criminals,” said Mr Dube.
He said it might seem unjust that the council is talking about the conditions of service of the mayor at a time when the local authority is struggling to provide services, but under normal circumstances the mayor should stay at a council house and provided with security.
Mr Dube said the mayor is the face of the city and as such where he stays reflects the image of the city.
Bulawayo United Residents’ Association (Bura) chairperson Mr Winos Dube said in the past residents had opposed the building of the mayoral mansion as they felt it removed the number one resident from the people.
He however, said it made sense to provide security at the mayor’s house.
“During the era of executive mayors there was proposal to build a mayoral mansion and this was rejected by the residents. The residents argued that the mayor was coming from the people and should remain there. I wouldn’t know what would be the position of the people now on that issue,” he said.
Mr Dube however, said providing security to the mayor was a fair proposal given that the mayor might work from home and therefore, might take home important documents.
“Just like other public officials who are provided with security, I believe it will be fair for the city to also provide security to the mayor,” he said.
Mr Dube said it’s not just the mayor who needs protection from thieves as residents across the city have also fallen victim to criminals.
He called on cops to intensify patrols in residential areas and arrest the culprits.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association co-ordinator Mr Emmanuel Ndlovu said while the idea of providing the mayor with security is noble, it comes at a time when council is struggling to provide services.
He said it will just add an unnecessary costs to the city given that the mayor is not an executive mayor who is a full-time employee of the council. The Chronicle