BY SIBONGINKOSI MAPHOSA
Bulawayo mayor Solomon Mguni says he is working on twinning arrangements with German cities to help the city tap into the experiences of municipalities from one of the world’s most developed economies.
Mguni told Southern Eye in an interview that he was part of a delegation that took part in a high-level leadership capacity building seminar for young leaders in local government organised by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) in Germany.
The seminar, which ran under the theme: Local government politics and citizens participation, ended on Friday.
Participants were drawn from different parts of the world and offered young municipal leaders a platform to interact, share ideas, challenges andexperiences.
Mguni said he used his two weeks in the European country to explore opportunities for Bulawayo.
“I have met various German mayors and have had open talks about this with them,” he said.
“For now I cannot disclose the names of the cities. All I can say is we as the city of Bulawayo need to keep contacts and strengthen communication lines.”
He visited Gummersbach’s fire and emergency service depot where he was apprised of how the city ran its fire service.
“I learnt a lot on how the Gummersbach city runs its fire depot,” Mguni added.
“It is run by volunteer fire fighters, and in the same city there is a big garbage recycling plant, something I feel can also be done in Bulawayo.”
He said Bulawayo was already a beneficiary of a Germany-sponsored skills exchange programme known as the Senior Experten Service (SEN).
“As a city of Bulawayo, we have been benefitting from the SEN programme where a team of retired experts specialising in various professional fields like engineering, health ,human resources and finance visit Bulawayo every year to offer training and capacity building of council staff,” Mguni said.
“We were able to share best practises from Germany and from other countries participating as you know that the world is now a global village.”
The mayor said the FNF programme gave him an opportunity to learn from other municipal leaders from across the globe.
“During the two weeks I have spent here, I have had the opportunity to engage in a dialogue of Connective Cities that was held in Cologne,” Mguni added.
“This dialogue helped me appreciate the massive assistance that the German Association of Cities is advancing to urban councils in Zimbabwe.”
Mguni said he had also learnt about devolution in Germany, a lesson that would become handy when Zimbabwe decentralises power to provinces.
“As mayor of the metropolitan council of Bulawayo, I learnt a lot from the state parliament as regards the realities of devolution of power , resources and responsibilities to the lower levels of government,” he added.