17 April 2017

Zimbabwe: Harare Residents Stop Paying Rates, Await New Zanu-PF Election Amnesty

Photo: Jerry Chifamba/allAfrica
Waste truck in Harare.

HARARE Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni says a lot of city residents have abandoned paying rates in the hope government shall emerge again next year with another debt cancellation directive just like in 2013.

While delivering his state of the city address at Town House last Friday, Manyenyeni said this has weighed down on the city's efforts to deliver top notch service to residents.

He was referring to a directive by then Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo on all local authorities to write off debts owed by rate payers between 2009 and 2013.

The directive was issued on the eve of the 2013 harmonised elections and has had disastrous effects for Zimbabwe's struggling local authorities.

However, the possibility of a new amnesty was rejected by current local government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, who recently told NewZimbabwe.com that; "the law is the law until it is changed.

"Payment of bills is a legal obligation and we are constitutional democracy."

In his address, Manyenyeni said he was keen on mending bridges with Kasukuwere.

The Zanu PF political commissar has repeatedly thrown spanners in the wake of the MDC-T dominated council's efforts to turn around the city's fortunes.

Because of the discord, city executives often find themselves having to choose between the ministry or council directives.

"The lack of unity between the executive and the policymakers will hinder the effective delivery of public services," Manyenyeni said.

"Where there are internal differences in views on issues among the key personnel and policymakers, it is critical to deal with the internal contradictions in private and when coming to the public, there is need to demonstrate a unity of purpose in order to build confidence among internal and external stakeholders."

The Harare mayor also said that as long as the capital city remained under a ceremonial mayor, city directors shall ever remain unresponsive to council directives.

He said the Urban Councils Act, which limits the mayor's powers, could only be amended through cooperation by the same Zanu PF party which enjoys a super majority in parliament.

"Hence the policymakers will be at the mercy of the executive, where information is easily manipulated," Manyenyeni said.

Despite the policy differences, said the MDC-T top official, executive cooperation was still key to council's operations.

"If service delivery is to progress, the open conflict situation between the head of policy making and the senior management and the acting Chief Executive Officer of the capital city is a clear recipe for disaster at Town House.

"The Mayor's attitude towards citizen participation is too narrowly defined and cosmetic in nature."

Manyenyeni also revealed some ideological differences with his fellow councillors who prefer "small gains along the way, until they get the change they want" while he wanted progress achieved via a "revolutionary way".

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