Will MDC councillors deliver under Zanu PF?

HARARE - In 2008, they dominated all urban local authorities countrywide with the majority to appoint mayors, chairpersons and all their deputies.

They were the darling of the masses but with no power to make executive changes that translated into service delivery.

Allegations of corruption topped the list.

Luxury living and driving top-of-the-range vehicles was the order of the day with some MDC councillors who negated service delivery for personal gratification.

Fights between the elected MDC councillors and Local Government minister, Ignatius Chombo, a Zanu PF minister were so rampant with over 20 councillors and six mayors being dismissed in a space of four years.

Politically-motivated expulsions of elected MDC councillors tainted Chombo’s record as local government minister, while fraud allegations against the Zanu PF stalwart also dominated the public arena.

Those who dared investigate his “fraudulent acquisitions of land in most towns were sent packing while “dead wood” Zanu PF stalwarts were appointed as special interest councillors.

With all that now gone and elections having gone in Chombo’s favour, will 39 election MDC councillors in Harare make a difference given that Zanu PF will be in control of the ministry?

“It is a very difficult scenario that we are faced with.

“It is either they work under Chombo’s instruction or face an impossible task of delivering given that we still have an archaic law called Urban Council’s Act, which is undemocratic,” Simbarashe Moyo, Combined Harare Residents Association head said.

“The MDC should come up with a position which affords them an opportunity not to disappoint the electorate at the expense of political survival.

“I doubt very much if they will make any meaningful contribution towards service delivery.

“It would be wise for them to hold feedback meetings with the electorate periodically so that ratepayers are kept informed as to who is blocking service delivery,” Moyo said.

Precious Shumba, Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT) director said the MDC councillors should concentrate their energy on debating service delivery issues and not “cheap party political issues”.

“It will be pointless for the councillors to try to push through a partisan agenda, which will be crushed by the minister or sabotaged by the council managers,” Shumba said.

“To us, running of local authorities is based on understanding issues of priority to improve the welfare of residents, and this can only be achieved in an atmosphere of cooperation among all stakeholders like council officials, councillors, the ministry of local government and other interested stakeholders,” Shumba said.

“HRT hopes that the Constitution will remain as it is, particularly Chapter 14 which recognises local government as a constitutional matter,” he prayed, adding that people’s power should be upheld by the Constitution.

Before the new Constitution was passed into law, the responsible minister had the authority to fire councillors and mayor willingly to an extent that the matter became political after Zanu PF lost control of all urban municipalities in 2000.

According to the new Constitution passed during the lifespan of the inclusive government, Chapter 14 of the charter under Section 278 (2), An Act of Parliament must provide for the establishment of an independent tribunal to exercise the function of removing from office mayors, chairpersons and councillors.

The new law says that such removal must only be on the grounds of— (a) inability to perform the functions of their office due to mental or physical incapacity; (b) gross incompetence; (c) gross misconduct; (d) conviction of an offence involving dishonesty, corruption or abuse of office; or (e) wilful violation of the law, including a local authority by-law.

Shumba said this Constitutional provision may be used to protect abuse of office by the minister, and the Constitutional Court could be involved where such violations occur.

The Constitution says if a local authority has an executive mayor this person must be directly elected by registered voters — but in the case of Harare — the mayor will be ceremonial because no changes were made of the urban councils act before the 31 July election.

Comments (1)

Hapana chinobuda nemachinja we can not wotk with them its like water and oil we dont mix i dont blame minister Chombo.i hate machinja if the law allowed me to eliminate them i will do so.

Colonel - 18 August 2013

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