THE MDC-led Bulawayo City Council recently turned down the opposition party’s provincial structures’ request for free use of Stanley Square in Makokoba, Southern Eye has learnt.

The councillors argued that allowing the MDC to use the facility for free was tantamount to abuse of office and would set a bad precedence.

According to a recent council report, MDC Bulawayo provincial administrator Sithabile Moyo wrote to council on December 4, 2019 requesting the free use of Stanley Square for an event scheduled for December 21 where party leader Nelson Chamisa was expected to be the guest of honour.

Council normally grants free use of its stadia and other facilities for charity and national events such as Independence, Heroes and Defence Forces Day, among others. Special needs groups are also eligible to use council facilities for free upon application.

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The councillors said acceding to the MDC request would open floodgates for abuse of council facilities by political parties.

“Normally there were costs involved and council did not want to set a precedence. Zanu PF recently paid for the use of Stanley Square. Alderman Clayton Zana wanted to know if other parties were paying. Alderman Monicah Lubimbi suggested that if other parties were paying, MDC should also pay,” read the minutes.

Councillors Donaldson Mabuto, Frank Javangwe and Joyce Ndlovu concurred.

“Councillor Silas Chigora said the party should pay even though Zanu PF usually abused council facilities. Councillor Arnold Batirai and Tawanda Ruzive proposed to pay for the party,” the minutes read.

Thereafter, it was resolved that the request for free use by MDC Bulawayo province of Stanley Square by Chamisa should not be acceded to.

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association director Emmanuel Ndlovu yesterday hailed the councillors’ decision.

“We would like to commend the councillors for that move coming at a time when resources and office abuse is the dominant form of corruption. What is needed is consistency, policy consistency right through and right across so that Bulawayo can regain its status as the best-run local authority,” he said.