Bu­l­awayo City FC bane to ser­vice de­liv­ery

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Opinion/worldwide - Gif­ford Sibanda

IMUST con­fess the past few weeks have been some of the most dif­fi­cult for me as a rate payer and proud ac­tive res­i­dent of Bu­l­awayo. The Bu­l­awayo City Coun­cil (BCC) owned Bu­l­awayo City Foot­ball Club have made head­lines for the wrong rea­sons. Their coaches are al­leged to have at­tempted to bribe a Beit­bridge soc­cer team much to the shock of not only soc­cer fans in the city and be­yond but the gen­eral pop­u­lace.

This in­ci­dent comes as I have been try­ing to come to terms with the painful fact that our city coun­cil­lors have al­legedly been loot­ing stands and prop­er­ties.

I have had to ask my­self a num­ber of ques­tions about the lo­cal au­thor­ity as a rate payer and a res­i­dent of Bu­l­awayo. I have asked my­self how the BCC, which is sup­pos­edly work­ing on a shoe­string bud­get caus­ing it to fail to pay work­ers timeously, would be able to fully bankroll a soc­cer team in this dif­fi­cult eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment.

This has been one of the ma­jor causes of de­clin­ing stan­dards in ser­vice de­liv­ery and cor­rup­tion.

I have found my­self with no an­swer as to why our city fa­thers, in their wis­dom or hon­estly in their lack of it, would in­crease the salary bill of the BCC with close to 40 per­son­nel in the soc­cer team, their sup­port staff and board al­lowances when ma­jor de­part­ments such as coun­cil clin­ics are op­er­at­ing with skele­tal staff.

Be­cause hon­estly, a soc­cer team is not part of the key ob­jec­tives of our coun­cil busi­ness or ex­pec­ta­tions of our faith­ful rate pay­ers. One finds it cu­ri­ous why the coun­cil would choose to sac­ri­fice ser­vice de­liv­ery for this op­u­lence. It would be help­ful if the BCC would tell us how many coun­cil­lors ac­com­pany the team on away matches, and what al­lowances each del­e­gate gets and if they bring their spouses/girl­friends/boyfriends to th­ese games.

I do have a gen­uine fear that this soc­cer team may be a gravy train, another way of sac­ri­fic­ing ser­vice de­liv­ery at the al­tar for an in­sa­tiable ap­petite for lux­ury.

I have thought long and deep to no end as to why the BCC would ig­nore the plight of thou­sands of youths who ex­pect the pro­vi­sion and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of youth cen­tres around the city and choose to fund a soc­cer team at a cost which is more or less equiv­a­lent to the ser­vic­ing of youth cen­tres.

As a res­i­dent and rate payer, I feel I am owed an ex­pla­na­tion as to why our beloved city fa­thers choose to show such favouritism and give bread meant for the thou­sands to the cho­sen 40 or so.

Dear reader, I have spent sleep­less nights toss­ing and turn­ing in my bed till dawn as I try to grap­ple with the fact that a coun­cil that can’t fund pub­lic toi­lets, but leased out the fa­cil­i­ties to a few that are charg­ing ex­or­bi­tantly to profit from the peo­ple’s call of na­ture would find money to fund a Premier Soc­cer League out­fit.

It’s sad to think how the BCC has em­braced cap­i­tal­ism to such out­ra­geous lev­els that its res­i­dents have to pay to re­lieve them­selves in the toi­lets they built from their hard earned cash over the years.

I have asked my­self on numer­ous oc­ca­sions why the BCC finds it nec­es­sary and prof­itable to run a soc­cer team while the res­i­dents of Cow­dray Park to this day have no piped wa­ter and sewer retic­u­la­tion.

The writer is not against soc­cer. I am a soc­cer fan, but the kind of soc­cer we would ex­pect from the BCC is so­cial soc­cer where staff mem­bers play for their health and so­cial in­ter­ac­tion af­ter work.

I have a whole lot of prob­lems with a pub­lic en­tity that at times fails to buy bond pa­per for its of­fices, pay its elec­tric­ity bill and faces a shrink­ing rev­enue in­flow but have fi­nances to fund a soc­cer team. Surely this is un­ac­cept­able.

The de­ci­sion to fund a soc­cer team at the ex­pense of ser­vice de­liv­ery is symp­to­matic of a lead­er­ship cri­sis; fail­ure to pri­ori­tise the needs of the peo­ple by an ar­ro­gant and self­ish lo­cal au­thor­ity lead­er­ship. It is how­ever not too late to re­turn to the ethos that has been the em­bod­i­ment of the coun­cil since in­de­pen­dence — the ethos of pri­ori­tis­ing ser­vice de­liv­ery, hon­esty and trans­parency. This cor­rup­tion is for­eign to us.

Un­col­lected garbage fes­ters out­side Bu­l­awayo’s Renk­ini bus ter­mi­nus and else­where while the Bu­l­awayo City Coun­cil spon­sors a soc­cer team

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