BULAWAYO councillors have expressed concern over government’s reluctance to allocate them alternative land for burials following reports that most of the city’s cemeteries were fast filling up.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
According to the latest minutes of the council’s health, housing and education committee, West Park Cemetery is left with only three months’ burial space, while the Luveve gravesite is also fast filling up.
Council last year applied for more land from government for a new burial site, but more than six months down the line, no land has been gazetted.
The local authority is eyeing land near Pumula South high-density suburb for use as a burial site.
Part of the minutes read: “The committee considered the matter and Councillor James Sithole sought clarification on the report.
He wanted to know how much burial space was left at the city’s cemeteries.Councillor Siboniso Khumalo enquired about progress regarding Pumula South Cemetery. Had government now gazetted this facility? Councillor Ernest Rafomoyo concurred.
“The deputy mayor (Councillor Gift Banda) was concerned about the three months’ burial space left at West Park Cemetery. He enquired whether council had taken any action on this.
“In response, the acting director of health services explained that West Park grave space was sufficient for the next three months. He confirmed that the Ministry of Home Affairs had not yet gazetted the Pumula South Cemetery.
“The acting town clerk advised that follow-up of the gazetting of the cemetery and other issues was made three weeks ago when municipal officials including the mayor visited Harare. In regard to gazetting of the cemetery, the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing was liaising with the Ministry of Home Affairs on this issue.”
Council has been encouraging people to cremate their departed relatives to save on burial space, but the option has had few takers with only 12 cremations done in December last year.
In a bid to find more burial space, city fathers said they were now negotiating with private land owners for more land to convert into cemeteries.
The council once came up with a controversial burial plan where residents were expected to dig deep graves to allow for two or three burials. The local authority also proposed to stop reservation of graves and asking owners of unused graves to sell them back to the council, and the reduction of cremation tariffs to less than half the cost of a traditional burial as part of efforts to reduce pressure on the existing cemeteries.