MDC councils focus on power

By Christopher Makaza


….as service delivery suffers

MDC-led urban councils are now concentrating more on power struggles and diverting their focus from their core mandate of providing proper service delivery to rate payers. They are obssessed with strategically positioning themselves for benefits which come with their positions in urban local authorities.

In Chitungwiza Mayor Lovemore Maiko, an MDC councillor, was recently attacked by unknown MDC hooligans at the municipality’s offices after serving the Town Clerk George Makunde with a suspension letter reportedly over abuse of office and incompetence.

The real issue behind the attack is that Maiko was now blocking his party acolytes from benefitting from illegal land deals. There is a clear Government policy on acquisition of urban land under councils, but the MDC land barons were feasting on the town’s decreasing land stock disregarding laid down procedures.

All this comes against a background of poor service delivery by the MDC-dominated Chitungwiza Town Council which is headed by Maiko. Untreated sewage flowing freely in the streets of St Mary’s, no regular supply of water, no refuse removal and discharging raw sewage in the Manyame River are some of the issues which Chitungwiza residents have to grapple with daily while Maiko and company are working on removing Makunde from office so that they can plunder the town unhindered.

Relatedly in Bulawayo the then MDC Deputy Mayor, Tinashe Kambabrami in July violently ejected Bulawayo City Council Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube, from his office after he refused to take a letter suspending him from duty. Kambarami’s election was recently nullified by the High Court  in a case in which 1 893 Mthwakazi Restoration Movement Trust (MRMT) was seeking an order to nullify his election as Ward 3 councillor, citing his criminal record.

Kambarami was convicted of theft and fined $80 or18 days in jail last year by a Bulawayo regional magistrate for stealing an extension cord from an electrician he hired to work in his office and now ceases to be a councillor and deputy mayor.

These, among other squabbles in the MDC-run councils, are a clear indication that the opposition party’s council officials are only after power and looting of council resources which is the reason they are failing to deliver on the core mandate of providing service to residents of the towns and cities they preside over.

It is unfortunate that MDC deputy secretary for local government Clifford Hlatshwayo recently accused central Government of interfering with the affairs of local authorities, handicapping them from discharging their duties without giving specific examples and areas where the Government was reportedly interfering.

With little or nothing to show for the money they are collecting from ratepayers, the majority of MDC-run urban local authorities have dismally failed to deliver basic services to residents.

Councils are failing to provide basic services like water, waste management and maintenance of sewer services.  Instead, they are spending time on self-enriching, corrupt and corrupt activities that resulted in the arrest of some Chitungwiza municipality officials last week.

The deplorable state of affairs in Chitungwiza, where residential places have mushroomed everywhere, and in some instances, on riverbanks and under ZESA main power lines, merely point to a failed management system that long abandoned its mandate and is now focusing on corrupt and clandestine activities.

It is a fact that MDC land barons who also include some councillors have wreaked havoc in Chitungwiza since 2010, creating a parallel land authority that today still stands with its own architects, town planners, building inspectors and housing officers. It is because of fighting these anomalous activities that Makunde was suspended on trumped up charges.

It is unfortunate that urban residents continue to vote for these incompetent and corrupt MDC councillors who have for years failed to improve service delivery in urban areas. Unfortunately, the urban electorate continues to vote on party lines, recycling the same corrupt failures who will deliver nothing new.

MDC led councils have also been affected by mismanagement of council resources including rate payer`s money, misplaced priorities, corruption and greediness, councillors corruptly awarding themselves and their relatives residential and commercial stands at the expense of genuine land seekers who pay for the land as well as rates to local authorities.

Most MDC councils prioritise awarding themselves hefty salaries at the expense of service delivery and purchasing very expensive and luxurious vehicles for city fathers yet they complain of having no funds to purchase refuse collection trucks and ambulances for health services.

Uncollected garbage and flowing raw sewage has become an eyesore in most urban residential areas too. Burst water pipes take ages to be repaired yet some areas such as Harare’s Mabvuku high density suburb go for years without clean water.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has from onset warned incompetent and corrupt local authorities and he made it clear that he is pushing for zero-tolerance against corruption. He has indicated that he will deal incisively with those local authorities and individuals found on the wrong side of the law.