by Virimayi Chidembo.
THE just-ended 2018 harmonized election has proved once again that residents in urban centres voted on political lines despite a known dismal performance by MDC councillors since 2000.
The MDC Alliance clinched most urban local authority seats, 26 of the available 32 councils – translating above 80% control across the whole country. What is evident though, it can no longer be business as usual for these councilors as residents expects them to deliver.
The appointment of Harare 45th mayor, Councillor Herbert Gomba has received jubilation among the Southern residents of Harare, but the responsibilities on Gomba’s shoulder are enormous as he is expected to bring back the Sunshine City which his colleagues (him also included) have run to the ground.
Now that devolution is the catchphrase across the country, these local authorities have to demonstrate their capability and justify why they were voted to take charge of the country's local governance. These local authorities can no longer hide behind a finger when it comes to development in their areas. A lot of issues need to be addressed, particularly to do with water and sewage reticulation, refuse collection and community infrastructure which have deteriorated to such alarming levels.
Over the years, these systems have been allowed to collapse. City and local authority officials and managers rewarded themselves obscene salaries and top-of-the-range vehicles, while neglecting their core mandate, claiming interference from the Zanu- PF-led central government.
Local authorities especially Mayor Gomba should visit Rwanda and witness how that country has managed to have its cities counted among the cleanest in Africa. Rwanda can provide a new template on how to effectively run local government without using it as a platform for self-enrichment as was the case with previous MDC- led councils.
It should no longer be business as usual because our cities and towns have for many years drowned in sewer and heaps of uncollected garbage with no end in sight.
It is now time to turn a new page and do things differently. Pavements in the city have become no walking area especially after working hours, due to vendors and this should be a priority for Gomba and crew.
There is need to justify why ratepayers have to part with their well-earned money and, in the same breath, give them reason not to dodge paying their bills because they would want to see their money put to good use.
If indeed the MDC Alliance's existence is centered on people’s struggle, then they must move from mere rhetoric to real action.
They have to hit the ground running as they seek to reverse the collapse wrought by many years of neglect. The ball is in their court to prove their mantle in redressing the ills in these councils.
The MDC Alliance should also empower its councillors selected across the country to appreciate the degree of the work that lies ahead, because their success or failure might determine how the party and its capability to govern or lack thereof, would be measured ahead of the 2023 polls.