Govt must leave councils alone

THE goings-on in the country’s urban local authorities have continued to show a worrying trend.

First, it was the Gweru City Council that was targeted by the Local Government ministry. The mayor, Hamutendi Kombayi, and several councillors who were elected on the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ticket were suspended. Although the courts nullified the suspensions, the elected officials have not been able to go back to work.

While we do not condone corruption, we feel government was supposed to facilitate the trial of the accused by a competent court. If found guilty then they should face the music. Harare soon joined the fray with the ministry suspending mayor Bernard Manyenyeni for insubordination following the City’s appointment of banker James Mushore to fill the vacant Town Clerk position at Town House.

Following the lifting of his suspension, Manyenyeni reported back at work, only to be suspended again a day later. Observers should be forgiven for presuming it is part of a grand strategy to win back control of local authorities to the governing party in preparation for the eagerly-awaited 2018 elections.

His first suspension over the appointment of town clerk Mushore is a fight for supremacy which by all means should be based on merit but has now turned political with the Local Government ministry, through Saviour Kasukuwere, flexing its muscle against Manyenyeni.

Since details of his first suspension have been shelved, government is now focusing on alleged corruption charges to find a way of muscling Manyenyeni out of council.

With the direction that the Local Government ministry is taking, there are already pointers that a commission could soon be running the affairs of the city.

However, in all this, it is the residents who stand to lose out. For as long as the city operates with people who are not put in those roles on merit, service delivery is inevitably compromised.

We have had cases of Zanu PF loyalists given authority and abusing it at the detriment of ratepayers in the past. Yet the city has its own priorities. Some parts of Harare have not had a consistent supply of water for some time now, with the threat of diseases like typhoid and cholera hanging over them.

Uncollected garbage, potholes on the city’s roads, poor sanitation, lack of proper vending sites are some of the immediate challenges the city has to address. This squabbling is obviously a side-show meant to divert people’s attention from the real problems facing Harare.

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