THE Bulawayo City Council has turned down a request by the Joshua Nkomo National Foundation (JNNF) to set up a permanent structure close to the late vice-president’s statue along Jason Moyo Street saying it would endanger the lives of pedestrians.
The foundation had sought to “continue the legacy of Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo through arts and culture, documentaries and fashion shows near the statue where the temporary mall was operational from December 2013 to January this year.”
According to a council report, the director of engineering services, Simela Dube, said the local authority had received an application from the JNNF to set up a permanent base along Jason Moyo Street.
“The foundation further stated in their application that during the multi-sectoral meetings held during the construction of the pedestal, it had been suggested that a structure be erected to enable visitors to the statue to have an opportunity to obtain JMN Nkomo souvenirs,” the council report reads.
“From a town planning perspective, it was not prudent to set up a business in the middle of the road as this compromises safety of both users and visitors to the business.
“Allowing such an activity in the middle of the road might endanger the lives of pedestrians. It should be noted that Jason Moyo Street and 8th Avenue was not yet a mall, but a road. It was this department’s considered view that the applicants would look for an office space within the vicinity and sell the promotional materials,” Dube said.
He said Nkomo’s souvenirs could also be sold from the museum in Matsheumhlope and other national museums since the statue was a national monument.
Council resolved that the application by the JNNF be not acceded to and that the foundation “look for offices from nearby buildings to run their operations (and) that the foundation may, on application, carry out promotions in the vicinity of the statue periodically”.
In December, the mock mall was opened to coincide with the official unveiling of Nkomo’s statue on Unity Day (December 22) and council blocked the roads to create space for a pedestrian mall.
The foundation’s officials had indicated that they would engage council and the Local Government ministry for the mall be made permanent.
Only a few companies, notable among them CBZ Bank, Bravo Transport Company and telecommunications companies Econet and Telecel as well as some individual sculptors, took up space at the temporary mall.