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  • Mayors could choke on double roles while councils' success could hinge on central gvt
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
    September 20, 2013

    The opposition Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai (MDC-T) has said its earlier decision to have officials who were not councilors to be elected to the position of mayors was motivated by the idea of separation of powers for effective service delivery. The party said double roles for mayors who are also freshly elected councilors could hamper service delivery.

    Speaking at a public meeting organised by the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) in Harare on Tuesday, September 17, MDC-T spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora, said apart from the party’s different understanding of the correct interpretation of the local government law from the Ministry of Local Government, it had not desired to have its mayors doubling as councilors as that will have an adverse effect on service delivery.

    “The question we must answer is why the MDC was insisting on a mayor who is not a councilor,” Mwonzora said. “We wanted a mayor to stand as a mayor and be able to supervise everyone.

    “Now the situation is that we have a mayor who supervises everyone as well as represents his ward.

    “We feared as the MDC that this could have potential problems of corporate governance.”

    Mwonzora said his party also feared that the mayor would have bias towards the ward for which he was elected in allocation of city council resources, among other challenges.

    “Suppose a donation comes and inokwana one ward chete, mayor anoindesa kupi” (where do think the mayor will prioritize if not his ward?)

    “This is exactly what we wanted to avoid.”

    The MDC-T position, however, flopped after the Minister of Local Government Dr. Ignatius Chombo gave a directive, which was implemented that mayors be elected from incoming councilors in the cities across the country.

    Meanwhile, other speakers at the meeting said the performance of the incoming councils could not be separated from the policies that will be implemented by the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front-led (Zanu-PF-led) central government.

    Job Sikhala, the President of MDC99, said people in some parts of Chitungwiza, a dormitory town about 30 minutes’ drive east of Harare, had gone for four years without clean water. He reasoned that the solution to such challenges would not only depend on the performance of the local council, but even the policies of the central government, were vital in remedying the water woes.

    “If the central government is not able to put policies to deliver water, there is no way we can expect the mayor of Chitungwiza to deliver water in the taps of Chitungwiza tomorrow,” Sikhala said. “So the responsibility for mayors to be able to deliver is for us to ask the question whether Robert Mugabe and his government have put policies that will facilitate the local authorities to be able to have service delivery in Harare, and any other council.”

    Gabriel Chaibva, a political analyst who stressed that he was not aligned to Zanu-PF, claimed that the performance of the central government and hence that of the local authorities would be affected by poor economic performance caused by so-called sanctions.

    “It doesn’t matter how knowledgeable you are in matters of local governance what matters at the end of the day is that are the ratepayers themselves able to pay their rates,” Chaibva said. “How are our national economic indicators?

    “Are our people employed? Are our people therefore capable of paying their electricity, their refuse collection charges? Are they able to do that?

    Jeremiah, a human rights lawyer said that it was critical for the performance of the new councils that the Ministry of Local Government should steer clear of unnecessarily interfering with their work.

    “For councils or councilors to be able to effectively deliver on social services there must be limited interference from the central government,” Bhamu said. “We have seen the deliberate attempt by the Zanu-PF government to dilute powers of the local authorities.

    “We have [witnessed the appointment of] ministers of state responsible for each province.

    “That move is only calculated to remove the power of the provincial councils that have been set up [according to the new Constitution].”

    Bhamu said the appointment of “the same minister who has been there for several years”, Chombo, was done because “he has shown that he can interfere” with the business of the councils to render them effective especially those run by the MDC-T.

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