Tsvangirai raps Zanu PF

HARARE - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday renewed his rivalry with President Robert Mugabe, telling councillors elected on his party ticket that the ruling Zanu PF was taking people for granted.

With the country’s economy in free-fall, service delivery in most local authorities is failing, while council employees are the hardest hit as municipalities, both rural and urban, struggle to pay salaries.

Addressing MDC councillors drawn from both rural and urban areas, Tsvangirai said poor service delivery could be traced to Zanu PF’s doorsteps.

“I have a pretty much good idea of the challenges you are facing, most of them having to do with the populist Zanu PF

decision to cancel all debts which left urban authorities struggling to pay salaries and to deliver services,” Tsvangirai told the councillors.

“This is what Zanu PF’s populist policy did to our local authorities but the MDC will be judged by the electorate on the basis of its record, even in light of what Zanu PF did to worsen the situation.”

In a move described by Zanu PF critics as costly and a political gimmick ahead of last year’s general elections, government ordered councils to cancel debts for the period 2009 to June 2013, pushing councils to the brink.

For instance, Chitungwiza, which was collecting an average of $900 000 per month before the controversial debt cancellation, was left with virtually nothing in its coffers and is presently engaged in bruising wage battles with its employees, who are demanding their outstanding salaries.

Tsvangirai said MDC councillors should work hard to distinguish themselves from the “culture of avarice and negligence of duty that characterises our colleagues in Zanu PF.”

“Above all, continue to engage the residents,” Tsvangirai said. “There must be structured feedback platforms that must keep you continually engaged with citizens. For those who are in the minority in their councils, show the qualitative difference between this party and those that take people for granted.”

The former Prime Minister told the councillors that notwithstanding the problems that the party has faced in light of the departure of the former secretary-general Tendai Biti and others to form their own party, councillors should continue to work hard to serve the people who elected them into office.

In the controversial 2013 general elections, Zanu PF routed the MDC, sweeping 1 493 out of 1 958 wards in the local authority elections, translating to over 76 percent dominance in local government countrywide.

Tsvangirai insists that the elections were stolen, and said the party councillors “managed to slip through the massive rigging” of 2013.

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