Chombo overplaying hand

HARARE - Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo is trying to undermine the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) by overturning all key municipal decisions made by the party.

The decision to reverse the suspension of his crony, Harare town clerk Tendai Mahachi, for refusing to furnish the mayor with a salary schedule of their obscene salaries is a classical case in point.

For years, Chombo has used this strategy to undermine MDC decisions so that he could seize control of municipalities that Zanu PF could not win through the ballot.

Chombo is rolling out the Zanu PF government’s plan to seize de facto control of the municipalities it was incapable of winning electorally by incrementally undermining the MDC.

Previously, he has replaced legally incapacitated municipal authorities with acting appointees beholden to him.

The performance of the town clerk was degrading the level of municipal service and public trust and that — by design — could taint the entire MDC.

The Mahachi debacle is a classical case of abuse of power by Chombo.

By the way, the new Constitution has done away with powers used by Chombo to fire mayors and councillors countrywide, or overrule council decisions, yet this continues unabated.

The new Constitution has clipped his excessive powers which the MDC, civil society organisations and residents groups have always condemned as open to abuse.

Perhaps Chombo needs to acquaint himself with Chapter 14, section 278 (2) of the new Constitution.

Chombo’s propensity to fire elected councillors, mainly those elected on the MDC ticket and replacing them with handpicked commissioners, is a matter of public record.

He has fired several MDC councillors. In Harare he suspended a total of six MDC councillors for corruption in recent times; five in Rusape; one in Nyaminyami Rural District Council; two in Zvimba Rural District Council.

Some of these councillors were suspended after opening a council probe on the minister on how he had acquired so many properties in Harare. He has also used the Urban Councils Act to fire several MDC mayors.

While the minister claims he was within his powers to fire corrupt MDC councillors ostensibly because they are not the principal tier of government and they enjoy borrowed power from him which he says he is free to take if he thinks they are abusing it, he is overplaying his hand by reinstating Mahachi.

We agree with the MDC Harare provincial chairperson that Chombo’s move to reinstate Mahachi was “retrogressive.”

It boggles the mind  why Chombo continues siding with persons who have caused Harare to degenerate from being a sunshine city into becoming a pot-holed village with crumbling infrastructure.

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