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Bulawayo residents endorse solar farms at disused cemeteries

Okwara Eustace Nkem

Oct. 12, 2019

BULAWAYO residents have said they are not opposed to the setting up of solar farms at disused cemeteries as long as council does not tamper with graves.
The residents said this during a Bulawayo City Council (BCC) 2019-2034 masterplan consultation meeting at the Large City Hall on Tuesday.
The deputy director of Engineering Services, Engineer Wisdom Siziba, had made a compelling presentation on why council proposed to set up solar farms at cemeteries.
The solar plants issue has previously sparked controversy among residents as some of them viewed the idea as "uncultural."
Eng Siziba said land was inelastic and would continue to depreciate as the population increases, therefore council has to consider multiple land use.
In response, residents said they have no objections to the setting up of solar farms at cemeteries provided developers do not disturb the state of graves.
Mr Peter Zwide Khumalo said solar farms at cemeteries were a noble idea but needed a buy-in from residents.
He cited his personal case where the South African government had to engage the Khumalo Royal family when it wanted to offer land where there are family graves in the Eastern Cape.
"However, the concept of putting up solar panels might be alien to the tradition of the people here. In other words, less people are familiar with that idea. And they would be making the grave of their loved ones more important. So, a lot more advocacy might need to be done before that kind of a programme is implemented.
Otherwise, it's a brilliant idea," Mr Khumalo said.
Another resident who did not identify himself sought clarification on how the plant would be set up without interfering with the graves.
He said as residents they did not want those installing or maintaining the solar plants to walk over graves as it was culturally wrong.
Expricoss taxis chairperson, Mr Mpikelelo Khumalo, said council was entering the spiritual realm in its idea for solar farms and the matter also needed to be handled in consultation with the spiritual realm.
"We have accepted the idea, so it is now left for those whose place of rest you will be invading. Again, would it not be nice to construct tombstones on all graves to standardise the areas since you would be constructing solar plants. You have actually delayed implementing solar projects, that's the future," said Mr Khumalo.
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