Councillors must elect competent mayors

HARARE - As the dust settles after the hotly-contested elections, it is back to serious business as those who were elected into office decide on the future of Zimbabwe.

There is one crucial decision which should be made with no emotion, that of electing the next mayors of our big cities.

Harare, with over 2 million residents, provides a test case for any mayor.

The city needs a person who has proved their mettle. So when councillors vote, they should do so only after careful consideration, putting aside selfish interests for the good of ratepayers.

No doubt, politics will determine the selection of our next mayors.

But that alone is not the only qualification which will deliver water, working street lighting, roads and ensure that our cities are clean.

When choosing a mayor, the stereotypical African politician should be substituted for a person with business acumen, to steer the boat and if need be, to frequently make annoying decisions that are an exact antithesis of those who pursue political power and public approval.

So when councillors choose our mayors — of course with the influence from political parties — the foremost prerequisite should be selecting a person familiar with public management and also with the political stamina to stand up to the well-documented bullying of the Local Government ministry.

Harare and Bulawayo in particular which are the oasis of the MDC’s political power, need shrewd mayors, persons who are of impeccable repute, a person beyond reproach, with a traceable track-record, free of corruption blemishes, nepotism and self-aggrandisement, which led to the dismissal of several councillors in the past decade.

Water woes are now all too common and we need now, more than ever, to have mayors who are good enough to attract investment and articulate policy. We need mayors who can deliver us from potholes that have become a permanent feature on our roads. Without this, our towns risk sliding back to the pre-inclusive government days when medieval diseases such as cholera wrecked havoc.

A mayor’s accountability to the voters does not diminish the reality that, more than anybody else at the municipal offices, the elected individual runs the show and failure or success will squarely be put on his doorstep.

If there is no one among the elected councillors who fits this bill, the Constitution provides for the appointment of an outsider. Councillors may cast the net wide, maybe look for candidates from the business sector, people with the wherewithal to run the cities efficiently.

Following the controversial decision to slash water bills, we need sober heads who can extricate the cities from the self-created crisis precipitated by Zanu PF’ s populist policies.

Comments (1)

"Harare and Bulawayo in particular which are the oasis of the MDC's political power, need shrewd mayors, persons who are of impeccable repute, a person beyond reproach, with a traceable track-record, free of corruption blemishes, nepotism and self-aggrandisement, which led to the dismissal of several councillors in the past decade" I like your observation. bit by bit you are realising why you lost our votes and think they were stolen away from you because you have proved to be very thick headed and dull. so as you realise your mistakes one by one, by the end of 5 years you will be able to rectify and get your " stolen" votes back.

stolen votes? - 24 August 2013

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