Councillor in ‘employment scam’
BULAWAYO Ward 24 Councillor Arnold Batirai continues to clash with residents in his ward with latest accusations being his alleged employment of members of his 30 July campaign team to the ward’s community sweeping group.
Residents in the ward have further said some of those employed by Clr Batirai were not even residents from the ward, which was a requirement when one is employing people to be part of the community sweeping groups.
This emerged during a meet the councillor gathering co-ordinated by the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
This was the first time Clr Batirai has formally met residents in the ward as he has been struggling to hold ward meetings since his election in the 30 July harmonised elections.
Ward 24 is the only ward in the city that failed to hold a budget consultative meeting as residents refused to be addressed by the embattled councillor, accusing him of rigging his way into the council chambers. Residents further accuse him of not living in the ward.
“(Clr) Batirai has been doing as he wishes in the ward, recently he employed people who we all know stay in Ward 25 to be part of the community sweeping groups in Ward 24.
“We believe he was paying them back because some of them were in his campaign team, if he says we are lying he should explain to everyone where Thandiwe Dube lives and whether or not she was in his campaign team,” said a member of the public who declined to be named.
In an interview Clr Batirai refuted the allegations saying he was not responsible for drawing up the names of those employed to the community sweeping groups but had given this mandate to the residents.
He said after failing to address a collective residents meeting, he has adopted what he called “square meetings” attended by only a few people to spell out his vision and programmes for the ward.
“After the disruption of budget consultative meetings I then adopted square meetings to sensitise the whole ward about developmental projects but in small units.
“On the issue of disruptions I think there are few people who are still in that spirit, the rest are healing and working as a team.
“As for the employment part I gave this mandate to square leaders who gave me the list which I rubber stamped and forwarded to council, I know no one or related to anyone who was employed, besides I was not around when these community sweeping groups started working,” said Clr Batirai.
The councillor laughed off allegations that he did not live in the ward claiming he has been a resident of Nketa 6 for the past 10 years.
“Anyone who is peddling those allegations should come to Number 416 in Nketa 6 or come to my office at Nketa Housing Office, this is all part of a ploy to discredit me but it will never work,” he said.
Some of the residents even walked out of the meeting, saying they could not stand his leadership style.
Ward 25 Clr Mzama Dube also attended the meeting and urged residents to work together for the development of the ward.