Patrick Chitumba Bulawayo Bureau
Gweru City Council (GCC) is renovating the 20-roomed mayoral mansion, with $38 000 expected to be spent on new curtains before the city’s new Town Clerk, Ms Elizabeth Gwatipedza, moves in.A borehole has been drilled and there have been some repairs to fix leaks, as well as painting. The mayoral mansion, which was last occupied in 2008 by former executive mayor Mr Sesel Zvidzai, had become derelict.

Ms Gwatipedza said when she was engaged, council offered the mayor’s house as part of her condition of service. She said the provision of curtains was done through a council resolution as part of maintaining the property. She said it was cost effective for the council to renovate the mayor’s house to accommodate her instead of looking for a new house.

“There is a lot of talk regarding the mayoral mansion,” she said. “To begin with, it’s a package that made me join GCC. Secondly, we are talking of a 20-roomed house and it obviously needs curtains.

“Can I fund its curtaining from my own pocket? No. Thirdly, it’s not my idea to do all this, but its a council decision backed by a council resolution. There was no water, so a borehole had to be drilled.”

Ms Gwatipedza said curtaining one wing of the mansion could cost about $38 000 and residents should appreciate its part of measures to preserve the property.

She said since she joined council last December she had been commuting from Redcliff town, about 60 kilometres away, driving her own car at her own expense.

“When I got this job, I was supposed to be booked in a hotel until council found suitable accommodation, but I decided to commute waiting for council to find accommodation,” she said.

Gweru residents have since come out guns blazing over the decision to splash $38 000 on new curtains for the mansion.

Gweru Residents Association chairperson Mr Cornelius Selipiwe said council was being extravagant.

“Council cannot spend so much just on curtains when it is failing to rehabilitate our roads and supply water to some suburbs which only get water at night,” he said. The mayor Councillor Charles Chikozho said bringing the mayoral mansion “back to life” was a council resolution and not Ms Gwatipedza’s decision.

He said Ms Gwatipedza was allocated the mayoral mansion to use as her residence after it was noted that she was driving from Redcliff to Gweru every day since her appointment last year.

“What is being done is above board and I’m pained when residents associations call for residents to boycott paying rates and water bills in protest against the decision to accommodate the Town Clerk in the mayoral mansion”, he said.

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