HE ROLLS on the latest sleek wheels in town with personalised plates inscribed “Mr Gee”.
Among his vehicle collection are a Mercedes Benz S50, Mercedes Benz ML and a Range Rover Sport.
The 44-year-old Banda emerged on the political scene early this year under the banner of the opposition MDC-T and was elected councillor for Ward 5, which includes Hillside, Four Winds, Newton West, Morningside and Greenhill.
Banda is also a renowned former football administrator having served as chairperson of the Zifa Southern Region and director of the now defunct Njube Sundowns Football Club.
This, in short describes Bulawayo’s new deputy mayor Gift Banda.
Bra Gee, as he is affectionately known in his circles of influence, told Southern Eye in his office, a stone’s throw away from the City Hall that he has been in politics for a while although his passion for football came first.
“I have always been in party politics, but not all party members can be active,” he said on Thursday.
“My main interest was in football. Concerning mainstream politics and being a councillor specifically, I was approached by residents of my ward who asked if I could represent them.
“They felt let down by lack of development in the ward.”
He said he has a plan to uplift the city, but would not want to overshadow the mayor since he is the deputy.
“Obviously the mayor (Martin Moyo) has his own vision and as deputy mayor I will endeavour to help the mayor achieve his vision and add on to my vision as well,” he said.
“Overall, the council executive has a vision that has sustained the city for years under difficult conditions.
“So we need to dovetail all the visions, including that of councillors.”
Banda said he would mainly focus on alleviating the plight of the elderly, particularly pensioners.
“I have a keen interest in elderly people whom I think as council, we have neglected for a long time,” he said.
“Pensioners in the city pay the same rates with the working class yet they do not get a regular income.
“I will propose to my fellow councillors to introduce a special rebate for the elderly because if the economy is harsh to us who are working, what more to the elderly?
“So it’s something that is in my heart to see the elderly being assisted.”
Banda said he was keen to see Bulawayo return to its former glory days as the industrial hub of the country in his five-year tenure.
About 86 companies have either shut down or relocated to Harare in the past decade rendering over 20 000 workers jobless.
“With the heavy load on our shoulders, especially on service delivery, it would be difficult to revive industry,” he said.
“Even if we get the required money, it would not be an instant exercise to suddenly turn around the fortunes of the city, but it is everyone’s wish to see Bulawayo back on its feet again as a major industrial hub.”
On service delivery, the deputy mayor said Bulawayo’s road network needs urgent attention and council should come up with a five-year plan and source funds to finance those projects.
“We have very limited resources as council and we would need a buy-in from the government,” he said.
Banda said he knew the financial constraints besetting local authorities and the government’s move to scrap ratepayers’ debts had made council’s financial situation much worse.
“It’s good for the residents, but the same people also need us to service the city,” he said.
“Now we have to do the servicing without money.
“But not having money does not stop us from planning using the little resources that we have.”
He said the five-year plan to be drawn up by council should contain specific priorities for each year as it would, for example, be pointless to carry out road maintenance in patches.
“We can construct a 2km road in Nkulumane, another in Cowdray Park and so on,” he said.
“Our books would reflect that we did, let us say 50km, but that would be in patches.
“My suggestion would be to prioritise which roads to work on and not in patches. We need to leave a legacy.”
Banda maintained that he would not lead any council faction and was not forthcoming when asked whether he would “climb down” from using his luxurious vehicles to a council-allocated car.
The previous deputy mayor Amen Mpofu was chauffeur-driven in a Mazda BT50 twin cab, a far cry from this range of luxury collection.