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  • Chombo’s directive on councils irrational
    Movement for Democratic Change
    July 23, 2013

    The MDC notes with great concern the populist directive made this week by the caretaker minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development, Ignatius Chombo in ordering local councils to write off debts owed by the residents in all urban and rural councils.

    While the MDC understands the plight of residents and sympathises with them for the hardships they are facing in failing to pay their bills because of mismanagement and corruption of the Zanu-PF government, we note with concern the timing of Chombo’s directive.

    It is not a genuine directive meant to benefit the suffering people of Zimbabwe but it is a Zanu-PF campaign tool as it has realised that the people of Zimbabwe are going to punish them on 31 July for mismanaging the economy over the last 33 years.

    If Chombo’s Monday directive was genuine, it should have been made in 2009 before the formation of the inclusive government and when the people of Zimbabwe were facing a serious cash crunch due to the hyperinflationary environment that had been brought about by Zanu-PF’s scorched earth policies.

    Chombo’s directive will cripple the day to day operations of the local councils as most of the people who have highly inflated bills are senior Zanu-PF officials including Chombo who owns hundreds of properties across Zimbabwe that were acquired under controversial circumstances.

    It is the culture for Zanu-PF officials not to pay their bills and rates and at the beginning of this year, Mugabe and his Grace owed ZESA US$300 000 while ministers from his party owed the power utility similar amounts.

    The decree by Chombo is similar to Zanu-PF’s policy of 2006 when it forced retail shops to slash their prices, a directive that led to unavailability of basic commodities, closure and loss of jobs to thousands of people.

    Chombo is known for making bankrupt policies and in 2009; he refused to comply with an MDC directive to dismiss councillors from the MDC who had been fingered in corruption by the party and dismissed.

    The non-compliance on the MDC’s decision by Chombo led to Robert Mugabe regretting the decision at a rally in Chitungwiza last week.

    For years Chombo has been unnecessarily meddling in the affairs of councils that are mostly managed by the MDC to the point that service delivery such as availability of water and refuse collection has been seriously affected. Chombo has once again proved that he is the biggest problem in local governance.

    Chombo should know that for residents to have better service delivery there is need to pay their bills, which is a source of revenue for councils and failure to do that will result in the decline of this and expose residents to diseases.

    As the MDC our position is that social services such as local governance play a critical role in a functioning society and ensure that all local authorities have technical means and resources to provide adequate water, sanitation, refuse collection, energy and better roads.

    Chombo should know that what the people of Zimbabwe need are not populist policies but jobs and a service oriented local council. People need the provision of affordable service delivery which is an imperator in the next MDC government’s overall development agenda.

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