By Christopher Makaza
It is not a secret that looting and power hungry are the major motivators driving MDC supporters to join politics with a view to one day become either a councillor, controlling council resources which include stands and money or a legislator.
This mentality has caused the MDC officials to neglect their core business of service delivery, concentrating more on power struggles and enriching their pockets.
Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa has openly admitted that there is massive corruption in MDC run councils, highlighting that quick significant change of lifestyle when one becomes an MDC councillor or legislator was very common in the opposition party. He is worried that if this continues to happen, the party`s image will be affected ahead of 2023 harmonised election.
Most of the MDC councillors and legislators now view the opposition party as an employment agency, where they can get opportunities for employment in local authorities and Parliament.
The deplorable state of affairs in most towns and cities, where residential places have mushroomed everywhere, and in some instances, on riverbanks and under ZESA main lines, merely points to a failed management system that long relegated its mandate and is now focusing on corrupt and clandestine activities.
It is a fact that MDC land barons who also include the councillors have wreaked havoc in these urban set ups since 2010, creating parallel land authority, that today still stands with its own architects, town planners building inspectors and housing officers.
Uncollected garbage, flowing sewage have become an eyesore in most urban residential areas due to maintenance neglect. Burst water pipes take ages to be repaired yet some areas go for years without clean water.
It`s 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, like what happened in the recent Kuwadzana by-election. Unfortunately urban electorate continue to vote on party lines, recycling the same corrupt failures who will deliver nothing new.
MDC led councils have also been accused of mismanagement of council resources including rate payer`s money, misplaced priorities, corruption and greediness, corruptly awarding themselves and their relatives residential and commercial stands at the expense of genuine land seekers.
It has become a trend for MDC-run councils to 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.
City council employees are being paid hefty salaries compared with their counterparts elsewhere and meagre allocation is being left for service provision in defiance with the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development’s directive that 70 percent of the revenue should be channelled towards service delivery while 30 percent goes to salaries.
In that vein, city council should consider going back to the drawing board and revise its wage bill, thus, from the person at the top down to the least paid person.
On the other hand, citizens who owe local authorities should make efforts in paying their dues. Municipal authorities should find best ways and means of debt collection so as to recover the millions of dollars of unpaid rates. Like what ZESA successfully effected, introduction of pre-paid water meters will enable local authorities to take a certain percentage of their money owed which will also assist rate payers in reducing their arrears.
Truth be told, corruption by public officials does not just mean citizens money is wasted. It also means that the public needs are not fairly and properly considered when projects are designed and implemented. Corruption undermines the quality of work and services, which in turn can negatively affect a functional business environment. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has from onset warned incompetent and corrupt local authorities and made it clear that he is pushing for zero-tolerance against corruption, and will deal incisively with those local authorities and individuals found on the wrong side of the law.