President Emmerson Mnangagwa seems to be living in the past after he blasted poorly-run local authorities during his Independence Day speech, saying they were causing misery to people by failing to provide optimum services.
“They can’t continue electing councillors who do not deliver, when councilors are elected they are supposed to deliver services to the people who elected them, and not bring misery.
“But because we have seen that they have failed, this is why under the Second Republic, we have now instituted an inter-ministerial Taskforce, led by the Honorable Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, to deal with, overriding the authority of these councils, so that we can provide to our people the services which these local authorities have failed to provide, so as central government we are intervening using central government resources to do so,” said Mnangangwa.
Masvingo Urban is operating with six councillors out of 10, after four others were removed due to the infighting in the opposition MDC formations.
The recall of councillors as well as Members of Parliament (MPs) was widely interpreted as a result of machinations by Mnangagwa and his ruling party who are bent on destroying credible opposition to their long rule.
MDC-T president Douglas Mwonzora sacked the four councillors earlier this year, and the city has had to do away with the audit committee as its composition and quorum could not be reached.
In Harare, Mutare and many other urban local authorities, several councillors were also recalled by Mwonzora thereby affecting service delivery in one way or the other.
When asked to give his opinion on Mnangagwa’s latest political posturing, analyst Rashweat Mukundu said Mnangagwa was a hypocrite and should not always speak with political intentions.
“It’s hypocrisy for the President to accuse the local authorities yet their hands are tied up, the government incapacitated them, he shouldn’t speak with political intentions.
“The President should make sure the country’s economy is running. Right now, people can’t afford to pay rates because of economic challenges leading to failure of councillors to deliver better services to people.
“He (Mnangagwa) should retrace where the real problem is coming from not blaming the councillors,” said Mukundu.
Media scholar and political analyst, Dr Last Alfandiga said government could not honestly blame the opposition for poorly-run local authorities as there were many other factors at play.
“The councillors are not the ones who run the local authorities; they come more or less as advisors. It’s rather the duty of the council’s administration to do the day -to-day management of council affairs.
It’s a political move to win voters but at the same time violating people’s rights of representation because these councillors who were recalled represent the people who elected them,” said Alfandika.
Another analyst, Mabweazara Mugodzwa said the move was a strategy by government to vest the ministerial taskforce to usurp power from elected representatives.
“It’s a political act aimed at empowering the ministerial taskforces to run councils on behalf the ruling party and its leadership.
“They are responsible for the dismissal of the councillors and are, at the same time, expecting councils to deliver excellent services to the people. This is not possible because they are crippled,” said Mugodzwa.
He said it was disingenuous that government had suspended by-elections and now expected a smooth flow of business in council without taking responsibility in its own role in creating the mess.