Serious differences have emerged between Harare's Mayor, Muchadeyi Masunda, and the majority of councillors and residents, who are unhappy with the recent purchase of expensive luxury vehicles for senior managers.
Masunda has also been strongly criticised for his attitude towards the councillors, who he allegedly views as uneducated. The Mayor has been accused of siding with senior management instead, even though they have failed to implement policies adopted by the elected councillors.
Charles Mazorodze of the Harare Residents Trust (HRT), told SW Radio Africa about the recent lavish spending on vehicles for officials at the City Council, who do not appear to have any plans to make life as comfortable for their ratepayers, who pay their wages.
Mazorodze said a resolution was passed on November 8th approving the purchase of a Toyota Land Cruiser valued at $190,000 for the Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi, and a Jeep Grand Cherokee valued at $117,000, for Chamber Secretary Josephine Ncube. Mazorodze criticised this "extravagant expenditure" when residents are being overcharged for services they do not even receive.
"The contracts which the town clerk and chamber secretary have are performance-based contracts, meaning they should have performed well beyond the shadow of a doubt for them to be awarded such luxurious vehicles. But the town clerk is notorious only for failing to implement the council's policies," Mazorodze said.
He added that HRT has attended several full council meetings at which many councillors were questioning the credibility of the town clerk, Mahachi. They accused him of deliberately failing to put into place many good policies which they had passed as council.
Mazorodze said: "The problem is it is the councillors who have to face the voters in their constituency to explain why nothing is being done about improving service delivery. Mahachi is somebody being protected by the Mayor, maybe because he is educated."
Mazorodze accused Mayor Masunda of displaying an "elitist attitude", which he said many councillors dislike because the Mayor undermines them and the work they are trying to do.
"The Mayor is too academic to deal with public service delivery. He sees all these other councillors as not being educated and sees himself as someone who is experienced. He protects senior management and downplays their lack of performance. But this education has not yielded any results," Mazorodze explained.
With refuse going uncollected for long periods of time, potholes in the streets, an inconsistent supply of water which is not healthy enough to drink, 200 residents took to demonstrating at City Hall last week.
Mazorodze said they want the water issue addressed urgently, cancellation of all debts acquired between February 2009 and December 2010, streamlining of salaries at City hall and resignation of the Mayor and senior management.