Harare elects Gomba mayor

HARARE - Harare City Council (HCC) yesterday broke with its past tradition of looking for a high-profile leader, after it elected into office unassuming Glen Norah councillor Herbert Gomba as its 45th mayor and 12th since 1980.

While this is not written in law, the position of mayor of the capital city has traditionally been occupied by people from affluent backgrounds.

Gomba, who holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Governance, took over from Ben Manyenyeni, who did not seek a new term upon the expiry of his five-year tenure in office.

The new mayor was elected unopposed, while his deputy Enock Mupamawonde was also voted in overwhelmingly ahead of prominent people such as businessman Ian Makone and lawyer Jacob Mafume.

In his acceptance speech, Gomba vowed to turn around the fortunes of the council by working well together with fellow councillors.

“The problems faced by HCC include water shortages, roads in need of re-sealing and reconstructions, debts ballooning due to unemployment, mushika-shika, congestion, uncontrolled vending, illegal occupation of council land and lack of financial support from central government — just to mention a few.

“Our transformation agenda will be hinged on the need to increase revenue and contain costs. It is also high time we engage various private players in meeting the needs of our residents. This will be done through public-private partnerships on waste-to-energy projects, the sewer system and road rehabilitation,” Gomba said.

He said that part of his transformation agenda for Harare was to review the city’s Combination Master Plan, which seeks to decongest the city and pave the way for the future construction of ring and spaghetti roads, as well as overhead highways.

Gomba said while the city was looking into the future of such roads, these would not be achieved anytime soon, given the prevailing harsh economic conditions.

The new Town House boss also said it was his desire to see local authorities being allowed to reconnect with the outside world — a tradition which he said had been stopped by the Local Government ministry.

“Councils should be allowed the latitude to reconnect with the outside world through exchanges, visits and bilateral relations. This can only be achieved if we are allowed to travel for the purposes of engagement and mobilisation of financial support and resources.

“Although government has emphasised re-engagement, we feel at our level that we should also be allowed full room to engage and source partnerships with the international community,” Gomba said.

Harare provincial administrator Cathrine Kampila said the city’s new councillors should work towards complementing the government’s re-engagement programmes with the outside world.

She said through devolution, which President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised to implement, provinces would now be expected to plan and grow their provincial economies.

“Ensure you take brand Harare everywhere you go. Promote investment in Harare, help attract Foreign Direct Investment and help rebuild the national brand.

“While I urge you to be futuristic in your thinking and resolution-making, I would also urge you to set achievable targets based on financial capacity. Incite and excite us with programmes and projects, but always be cognisant that our people are tired of pies in the sky. Promise things that you can achieve. Promise projects that can be funded by your budgets,” Kampila said.

Meanwhile, Harare residents associations have challenged Gomba to work closely with residents to improve the city.

Gomba inherits a city under pressure to improve service delivery, complete the rehabilitation of the multi-million dollar water system at Morton Jaffray and to replace its archaic billing system which has been a source of consternation among residents.

Residents and industry owe HCC more than $500 million in outstanding rates.

Comments (1)

Congratulations Sir. We pray you bring sanity to Harare again - and restore the SUNSHINE CITY brand, better services, a cleaner, growing vibrant city. We need clean water in all the parts of the city and environs. Please reduce the high salary expenditure and lastly be accountable. God bless the new mayor. God bless Harare. God bless Zimbabwe

Daniel 5 - 5 September 2018

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