Jostling as mayoral voting day draws closer

HARARE - Across Zimbabwe’s municipalities, the mayoral race is getting intense, with twists and turns anticipated as the voting day draws nearer.

Despite the appalling service delivery in Zimbabwe’s major cities and towns, the office of mayor continues to generate a lot of interest due to the featherbeddings that comes with it.

In terms of the law, a mayor must be voted from the crop of councillors ushered in through a general election.

Notwithstanding, a precedence was set in 2008 when the then Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo allowed people who were not councillors, like in the case of Harare, to be elected as mayors by councillors.

The Daily News can report that the jostling for the positions has started in earnest with winning councillors presenting their CVs to their political parties for consideration.

Of the 32 urban councils across the country, 26 are dominated by the MDC Alliance up from 13 councils in the 2013-2018 session.

While the Daily News could not immediately identify those who submitted their CVs, indications are that two main contenders have emerged for the post of mayor in Harare namely reclusive businessman Ian Makone and lawyer Jacob Mafume.

Also in the running, according to sources, is councillor Herbert Gomba.

In Bulawayo, six people namely Silas Chigora, Clayton Zana, Solomon Mguni, Ernest Rafomoyo, Pilate Moyo, Norman Hlabano are said to be in the running, with Mguni being the favourite.

In Mutare, lawyer Simon Chabuka is said to be interested in the job, and faces competition from Kudakwashe Chisango and Thomas Nyamupanedengu, according to sources.

Bernard Manyenyeni, president of the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (Ucaz), confirmed that councillors started submitting their credentials last week.

He said the uniqueness of the mayoral job lies in the mix between corporate and business management, community welfare, politics and diplomacy.

“The quest for quality, capacity and fitness for purpose should deliver those things we yearn for in our urban settings.

“The question to those with real political power is how much effective authority and devolution will be availed to these councils and mayors to deliver?” he said.

Manyenyeni said council can be frustrating and his successor should be willing to work executive hours for a ceremonial job.

According to the Local Government Survey report of the six major centres in Zimbabwe, many residents preferred to elect their own mayor arguing that the selection was not transparent.

The report indicated that about 85,4 percent of the sampled groups preferred a mayor that they directly elected, while 74,4 percent wanted the mayor to be working full-time at council.

It was also discovered that 52,4 percent preferred a mayor who had the power to recruit senior city officials and 65,3 percent did not want the mayor to have powers to override full council decisions.

“More than 70 percent indicated that the current process of electing city mayors is undemocratic.

“Thus, the legal requirement of councillors electing mayors requires a revisit. In fact, more than 85 percent reported that they prefer a mayor directly elected by citizens. Such a preference is anchored on the assumption that voting a mayor directly empowers citizens to hold the mayor accountable (72,3 percent),” the report said.

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