Bulawayo City FC bane to service delivery
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