By- Top CCC official and Bulawayo’s Mayor, Councillor David Coltart, has visited Johannesburg, South Africa, for meetings with Zimbabwean businesspeople who want to start businesses in the city.
This trip was organised by the Joshua Nkomo Foundation’s South Africa chapter (JNFSA), which approached Cllr Coltart to help revive Bulawayo as an industrial centre.
Because of many challenges including water shortages, many companies closed down or moved to other cities. As a result, some of the abandoned buildings were taken over by churches.
The government under President Emmerson Mnangagwa has in the recent past made some effort to restore Bulawayo’s status as an industrial hub, but, a lot still needs to be done in that regard.
Accompanying Mayor Coltart is the City’s business and economic development committee chairperson, Cllr Mxolisi Mahlangu.
In an interview with the Chronicle, Mayor Coltart mentioned that JNFSA informed him about their connections with business people in South Africa, especially those in Gauteng who are Zimbabweans and are interested in investing in Bulawayo. He said:
I responded to that several weeks ago and said we will be happy to go down there and with a limited budget, they are funding the trip. They undertook to buy a flight ticket for myself while I offered to stay with friends in Johannesburg.
It is humbling that people from here who are in the diaspora have not given up on the city and wish to contribute to its further development and stabilisation, it’s very encouraging.
Cllr Coltart mentioned that the meeting will address various issues and develop a plan of action. He expressed his deep honour and gratitude for the personal invitation from the JNF, seeing it as a significant gesture of reconciliation despite political differences. He highlighted his longstanding relationship with the Nkomo family and emphasized the importance of working together regardless of political, ethnic, or racial differences to promote the city’s interests. He also mentioned that Mr. Moyo, accompanying them on the trip, was recommended by the government, and his expenses, along with Mr. Mahlangu, will be covered by the council budget, while the JNFSA covered only his travel costs.
In an X post Coltart said he had met the Mayor of Johannesburg and discussed how the two cities could work together in the future. He said:
I had a highly productive meeting this evening with His Worship the Mayor of Johannesburg Kabelo Gwamanda. We discussed how our two great Cities can cooperate better in future. I have invited the Mayor to visit Bulawayo soon.
The “Meet the Diaspora” initiative by the BCC (Bulawayo City Council) aligns well with the government’s call for diaspora Zimbabweans to invest in their home country. Cllr Coltart emphasized that the city’s immediate need is a reliable water supply for meaningful development. He expressed concern about the water situation and has been advocating for the rehabilitation of the Nyamandlovu aquifer. He appreciated the government’s response to refurbish pumps and electric connections to increase water generation by 15 mega litres. Cllr Coltart also mentioned the importance of expediting the construction of the Glass Block dam in Filabusi, which will significantly improve the city’s water supply by 70%, nearly doubling its daily requirement.