Banda denies bribery claims

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BULAWAYO deputy mayor Gift Banda has dismissed accusations that he leads a faction within council saying it was demeaning for councillors to be treated as “schoolchildren who need hand-holding”.

NQOBILE BHEBHE
CHIEF REPORTER

Banda was elected deputy mayor by fellow councillors after shrugging off challenges from Earnest Rafamoyo and Collet Ndlovu.

All Bulawayo city councillors are from the MDC-T after the party’s clean sweep of the 29 wards in the July 31 elections. He told Southern Eye in an interview on Tuesday that councillors were independent people with their own preferences and as far as he knew, he did not influence anyone.

“It’s an imagination of the people. Councillors were elected in their respective wards and it’s an insult to them for people to say they belong to certain individuals,” Banda said.

Banda, a former football administrator who has previously held administrative roles at the now defunct Njube Sundowns Football Club and the Zimbabwe Football Association, stands accused by party members of using his wealth to buy support from the MDC-T rank and file.

He is also accused of offering his Mercedes-Benz vehicle to a senior party leader who stays in Bulawayo, during election campaigns and buying suits for some councillors voted into office for the first time to ensure he builds a power base within the local authority.

“To me it’s demeaning because the councillors are independent people who are adults and who chose what they thought was right for them. If they are voting, no one needs to give them guidelines and it’s wrong for people to take them for schoolchildren who constantly need guidance,” Band said.

He added that the five-year term would be difficult for councillors as they were under pressure to leave a lasting legacy.

“We should come up with a five-year plan, but to deliver that plan we need money to finance projects. We have very limited resources as council and we would need a by-in from the government,” Banda said.

He said that his main thrust would be to suggest a five-year plan with specific priorities for each year.

It was pointless, he said, to carry out road maintenance in patches.

“At the end of five years, we should leave a legacy and to achieve that we must have a proper work plan,” he said.