City unveils new strategy

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BULAWAYO City Council has crafted a five-year corporate strategy geared at revamping the image of the city through infrastructure development and creation of a thriving economic base. The strategy would reverse the negative business trends and attract meaningful investment.

CHIEF REPORTER

The document which was passed during last week’s full council meeting, was crafted between September 2012 and October last year.
Councillors resolved to adopt the strategy to be implemented between 2014 and 2018.

The new blueprint is being introduced after council struggled to fully implement the 15-year master plan which was drawn in 2000 and expires by year end.

The report on the corporate strategy said the mismatch between the rising demand for services and the declining institutional capacity of council had motivated the municipality’s desire to rethink the future.

The corporate strategy among other issues seeks to address housing, water, industrial zones and introduce efficient revenue collection.

“The 2013 to 2017 strategy seeks vigorous ways by which to trigger and sustain a thriving economic base, to reverse the negative business trends and attract meaningful investment and tourism vibrancy” part of the report reads.

However, council said the government interference in its affairs and mistrust from residents might negatively affect its full implementation.

“It was noted that the relations between the city and residents has in the past been difficult owing to service delivery challenges,” the report said.

“City of Bulawayo is taking measures to improve relations, transparency and accountability.

“These measures while well intended depend for their success on the extent to which the city’s stakeholders are forthcoming and supportive.

“Past experiences have shown that political divisions are a major stumbling block to the city’s progress.

“The strategic planning process has as an underlying assumption that all stakeholders will be willing to put aside political differences and focus on the larger goal — the city’s success.

“The timing of the strategic plan (coming after major elections and with none in the strategy period) bodes well for the setting aside of political difference and a focus on the City’s interests” the report added.

Council said it also feared that government might not buy into the strategic plan, but planned “to minimise the risk associated with unsupportive decisions/measures by regulatory authorities, the city intended seeking opportunities for positive engagement to communicate both its needs and make contributions on the design of national policy and its implementation”.

Council said the city has experienced unprecedented loss of industry through shutdowns and relocation of firms leading to high unemployment and the emergence of an underworld of unregulated social and economic activity.