Minister accused of only focusing on Harare

HARARE - Chitungwiza and Manyame Rural Residents Association (Camera) has accused Local Government minister July Moyo of neglecting other councils and focusing only on Harare City Council.

They argue that while Moyo may be trying to fix issues in Harare, he should not use that as justification to interfere in the city’s affairs.

The statement by Camera, comes as pressure groups across the country are calling for government to uphold the constitutional provision of devolution of power.

“Councillors across the country need to work hard for the uplifting of the standards of service delivery in the country but this does not affect those in Harare alone.

“The state of service delivery in almost all local authorities, with the water provision situation worse off in Chitungwiza where a population of more than 500 000 survives without guaranteed access to clean, safe and potable water,” Camera said.

They argue that the town’s water woes are caused by the fact that the town does not have its own water source and exclusively relies on Harare water.

Camera also argued that while Moyo is “keeping an eye” on Harare, he should not interfere in the running of the city’s affairs as predecessors did.

“Chitungwiza is a case study of the negative effects of unwarranted interference by the Executive into the administration of local authorities in the country. Apart from that council is operating without a substantive town clerk and councillors after they were all suspended and fired last year. Chitungwiza is currently led by a three-member commission which was imposed on residents by Saviour Kasukuwere,” they said.

During the Robert Mugabe era, former ministers of Local Government Ignatius Chombo and Kasukuwere haphazardly suspended and fired opposition councillors and replaced them with commissions.

Despite having provision for devolution of power in the Constitution, local authorities are still at the mercy of central government as provincial and metropolitan councils are yet to be established.

During the 2018 National Budget presentation, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said government did not have the funds to establish the councils and left the burden to local authorities.

Centre for Community Development Zimbabwe director Phillip Pasirayi, however, said  there is no political will to implement devolution and the issue of budgetary constraints is just a scapegoat.

He said there is real fear in government that devolution will give the opposition a foothold in rural areas which have traditionally been under Zanu PF control.

“It is not so much about lack of funding for the provincial and metropolitan councils but the ruling party’s unwillingness to share power with the opposition in rural areas which it considers its strongholds. The new administration should immediately establish the provincial and metropolitan councils to show its commitment to upholding the Constitution and respecting the wishes of the people who overwhelmingly voted for the charter.”

“If this is truly a new political dispensation as we are being told then it should be one premised on respect for the Constitution and the rule of law.

“There is no need for political parties to further discuss devolution as suggested by Chinamasa.

“What we are expecting is for the responsible ministry to present a draft bill to Parliament on devolution for debate before enactment into law,” he said.


 

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