Uproar over Bulawayo’s US$300,000 arts festival bill


Brenna Matendere

Harare—Residents of Zimbabwe’s second capital, Bulawayo, are outraged by the municipality’s approval of a “wasteful” US$300, 000 bill for a four-day culture event that commenced last Sunday.

The residents say the money must have been used to address the acute water supply challenges that have been bedeviling the city for a long time.

NewsHub has established that the mayor, David Coltart, walked out of a recent full council meeting that approved the cultural expo budget under the Bulawayo Cultural Festival.

Coltart insisted that the money should be used to solve the water crisis that he and residents are pushing to be declared a national disaster so as to attract sufficient aid from local and international sources.

The festival, which Coltart participated in though, kicked off with a street parade, celebrations of World Bicycle Day, and the koNtuthu Legends Concert held on  1 June at the City Hall car park.

Other festival activities that have taken place include a gospel concert,  workshops for artists, the Inxwala lecture series and the “I Wear My Culture” exhibition.

The festival will close with the Imbokodo concert, an all-female artists’ concert.

In an interview with NewsHub, the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) executive director, Permanent Ngoma, said the expenditure would undermine the agenda for a national disaster status for Bulawayo’s water situation.

“As the residents of Bulawayo, we are concerned—or rather shocked—by this issue that council actually passed a budget of $300,000. We are asking ourselves where the funds are coming from because I don’t know if they are there in the approved council budget.

“What’s shocking for us is that we are currently facing a water crisis in which we’ve been trying to push for the government to declare the Bulawayo water crisis a national emergency. But how will government do that when the council says it has US$300 00 to spare for a festival?” she asked.

She added: “We expect council to show that it cares about us by prioritising issues that affect us on a daily basis.”

Finance committee members Ndantho Ndlovu and Mpumelelo Moyo are among those that strongly supported the US$300 000 financing of the arts festival which was suggested by Bulawayo’s director of housing, Dictor Khumalo.

The two, according to committee minutes, vouched for the festival on the basis that Bulawayo is “known as the capital city of arts and culture”, hence the need to allocate resources towards the expo.

The minutes indicate that Moyo argued that the festival funds could not be diverted to other uses as they had already been set aside in a provisional budget.

Bulawayo residents have been consistent in their demand for resources by the local authority to be channeled towards resolving the deepening water crisis.

In February this year, the residents gave an ultimatum to the local authority to fix the country’s second largest city’s perennial water crisis.

The residents, represented by BPRA, delivered a letter to the council, protesting frequent and lengthy water rationing periods that resulted in key public institutions like hospitals and schools going without the precious liquid at a time Zimbabwe was grappling with a serious cholera outbreak.

The council, though, did not heed the ultimatum.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy