By Staff Reporter
Gweru City Council mayor Josiah Makombe recently revealed that the cash strapped local authority had lined up business ventures to increase its revenue base.
In a recent wide ranging engagement meeting with Women’s Coalition Zimbabwe Gweru chapter, Makombe said some of council’s ambitious projects include turning it’s aerodrome into an airport, quarry mining and the resuscitation of beer entity Go Beer.
The city boss revealed that in some of these business ventures council had already engaged private partners.
“We have lined up business projects for the city and these include turning our aerodrome into an airport, quarry mining and the revamping of council’s beer concern, Go Beer,”Makombe said.
“We will court private players and in some of these business ventures we have already engaged partners and are at the stage of drafting agreements.”
Makombe said the business ventures would see council increasing its revenue streams and move away from over reliance on ratepayers to get income that can finance the municipality’s operations.
But residents expressed doubt in the projects given what they described as “documented history” of corruption at the local authority.
Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association (GRRA) director Cornelia Selipiwe said council had in the past failed to curb financial leakages in some of its departments.
“The reason why council is now getting into partnership with Harare City Council’s City Park is because they have failed to curb financial leakages in the parking department,” said Selipiwe.
“So one wonders how they would be able to arrest such leakages in these business ventures. Council does not have consistent business policies that can guarantee them serious business ventures.”
He added:” Our worry as residents is that they are widening their corruption base. We have had a lot of corruption issues at council and yet this is the same council now wanting to venture into income generating projects.”
He said council officials were likely to neglect their core business of service provision as they “jostle to fatten their pockets by dipping their hands into these money spinning ventures.
But Makombe said his council was working on mechanisms to eradicate graft at the institution.
“Corruption can only be stopped when you put systems in the organisation,”he said.
“We are working flat out so that our system is free from manipulation.
We are going to have a loss control team at council.”
In 2014 Go Beer collapsed amid reports of serious looting by council officials.
A forensic land audit conducted last year by the Local Government ministry unearthed corrupt tendencies at the local authority with council losing millions of dollars in shady land deals.
Council officials in various departments have already been suspended on corruption allegations with pending disciplinary measures.