Chombo the root of Harare's woes

HARARE - Water woes, potholed roads and uncollected refuse in the bustling city of Harare can be traced to Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo — at least according to the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

For good measure, residents accuse their councillors of being corrupt — but the MDC’s Harare province says the party has weeded out corrupt elements in order to bring sanity to the crisis-ridden city.

Obert Gutu, the MDC Harare province spokesperson told the Daily News that there has been a general improvement in fortunes of Harare, where water is flowing intermittently in some suburbs while boreholes have been drilled to cater for those who are caught in the dry spell.

“We do not tolerate corruption and that is the reason why some MDC councillors deemed to be corrupt have either been fired or suspended from the party. The MDC-run council has performed extremely well in ensuring that most areas in Harare receive an uninterrupted supply of clean and safe water,” said Gutu.

Although the MDC has expelled several councillors, including deputy mayor Emmanuel Chiroto, Chombo has refused to expel them from council.

Zanu PF has upped the ante against the MDC, attacking councils run by the former opposition party as havens of corruption. But Gutu says the problem can be traced to Chombo, whom he said interfered in the appointment of key council employees and also special councillors.

“The situation has not been made any better through the improper and irregular interference in the operations of the council by the minister of Local Government.

“In order to protect his Zanu PF cronies who occupy strategic positions within the administrative structure of the city council, the minister has misused and abused the wide powers that he has in terms of the Urban Councils Act, to virtually usurp the functions of the council as well as sabotaging any progressive work that the council may be embarking upon,” said Gutu.

When contacted for comment, Chombo said was in a meeting and promised to call back.

He had not done so by the time of going to print.

Before the formation of the unity government in 2009, water, a universal right, became a privilege that was accessed by just a few and a cholera outbreak wreaked havoc in the city spreading to other parts of the country as the then Zanu PF government failed to provide essentials.

However, the establishment of a coalition government between Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe in 2009 breathed some life into vital sectors such as health and service delivery, but still the situation is far from ideal.

“While we accept that residents of Harare have every right to expect efficient service delivery from their elected council, it is also important for the people to understand and appreciate the challenges that the city council is facing.

“The City of Harare, like most government and quasi-governmental organisations in the country, suffers from a severe cash flow problem that makes it virtually impossible to efficiently provide clean and safe water to all the three million residents of metropolitan Harare,” said Gutu.

Gutu alleges attempts by councillors to bring sanity in the city like closing illegal car sales which have sprouted around the city have been stymied by Zanu PF.

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