Local News

Gweru residents speak on Mnangagwa freedom of city status

By Lewis Kuchineyi

Gweru residents have said there were not consulted by the local authority before conferring the freedom of the city status to President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently.

Mnanagwa recently received the honour in the Midlands’s provincial capital, an elaborate event accompanied by pomp and fanfare.

As usual every visit by the Head of State saw the city receiving some facelifts.

Away from the festivities and the carnival atmosphere, Gweru residents generally felt left out.

 “As residents we were not told about the event and as far as I am concerned, I don’t know what it means and what benefits it brings to me as a resident,” a resident Jemina Muzvuru said.

Gweru United Progressive Residents and Ratepayers Development Association (GUPRADA) Executive Director, David Chikore confirmed that residents are in the dark on the meaning of the status accorded to the number one citizen.

 “Unfortunately we are in the dark on all aspects that you are asking about and, the benefits, if any, accruing to the city as a result of the conferment were never made known to us. In the absence of such information, we are not qualified to give a credible comment,” Chikore said.

Director of the Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association (GRRA), Cornilia Selipiwe said that in as much as the conferment speaks of a unity of purpose between the central government and local authority that is purely developmental, the residents were never consulted.

“But when they came up with the decision to give the Freedom of the city status to the President, they never consulted the residents, not even a single meeting was held in terms of finding out our honest and sincere feelings about the whole thing. But that has been the norm; our local authority is poor in terms of engagement, our council has never given any value to us as the residents and we were never consulted like I said before,” said Selipiwe.

Meanwhile, Gweru City Council insists residents were consulted.

Gweru City Council Public Relations Officer Vimbai Chingwaramusee said councillors are the elected representatives of the residents through a council resolution decided to honour Mnangagwa.

Chingwaramusee said that the conferment was a civic honour which ensure good working relations between Gweru and the President based on previous relations when the President assisted the council to get water pumps for Gwenhoro Pump Station and to ensure all local authorities get Devolution funds.   

In his acceptance speech, President Mnangagwa said that the city council must regularly engage and not only seek to consult them during budget formulations when they want money from them.

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