By Anna Chibamu
THE MDC Alliance has described alleged interference by local government minister July Moyo on the operations of local authorities and his failure to respect the Constitution as poisonous and destructive.
The MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa is in charge of most urban councils including the capital Harare and Bulawayo, the second capital.
However, MDC Alliance secretary for local government Cecil Zvidzai, Friday said it was time to challenge President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration for engineering the current problems bedevilling local authorities.
He said Moyo’s interference could best be described as “fraud”.
“The relationship between central government and provincial governments, between central government and local authorities can best be described as fraud with issues of interference, particularly at local authority level,” Zvidzai said at a press conference in Harare.
“The central government has a serious appetite for local authorities. This is a problem that we across the political divide have. We should deal with this if Zimbabwe has to move on.”
“Look at issues of procurement. A lot of people talk about corruption at local authorities, but unbeknown to many, procurement in all local authorities is controlled by the central government and unlike in the past where the councils used to have procurement boards, those have been abolished and replaced by procurement committees of staff. This is a big problem.
“Staff recruitment in all local authorities is done by the central government. Budgets as you all know are passed by the central government. In most cases, local authorities lose revenue due to delays by central governments in passing budgets. Innovations by councils are delayed, truncated and stopped by the central government,” the former deputy minister of local government during the now defunct inclusive lamented.
Zvidzai said the MDC Alliance had observed the presence of a toxic environment of competition rather than cooperation as the central government competes with local authorities.
“Naturally this is a poisoned environment which shows that the parent is not taking its responsibility. The most dangerous issue at the moment is the politically polarised environment in our matrix. This leads to inequity around transfers and functionalisation of committees through uncalled for illegal recalls.
“The arrests of councillors in the middle of meetings in the chambers where the most important business of the people is transacted is not acceptable at all,” said Zvidzai.
Several MDC Alliance councillors have been recalled from council after the MDC-T led by interim president Thokozani Khupe has written to Moyo informing him they were no longer party members. Among them is former Harare mayor Herbert Gomba.
Several councillors have also been arrested for alleged corruption. The current Harare mayor, Jacob Mafume is in remand prison facing corruption charges.
Zvidzai pleaded with Moyo to leave councils to run their own operations and create space for innovation and better service delivery.
“Local councils should be run by elected people only. The Constitution is very clear on how local authorities should be managed.
“The Urban Councils Act and the Rural District Councils Act and the Regional Town and Country Town Planning Act have led to a highly contentious issue as these are not friendly to the provisions of the Constitution and there lies the genesis of our problems in this country.
“We went for a referendum in 2013 where 97% of the population voted Yes to all the provisions of the Constitution including devolution and seven years down the line, there is no appetite to make sure the demands of the Constitution are implemented,” Zvidzai added.
“Currently there is a lot of mistrust. You can touch the mistrust. You can see it; it is there and this makes it difficult to deliver. The local government should exist at the pleasure of people.”