Zimbabwe: Chamisa - Ruse of Integrity Panel, Corrupt Councillors

Municipal Reporter

It will be folly to expect the MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa to act on pervasive corruption in urban councils because that is where their party's bread is buttered.

In primitive fashion, the MDC Alliance has been suckling the life out of councils like Harare City Council, where it dominates.

For years now, the local authorities that reek of corruption have been the feeding trough of the MDC-A led by Chamisa.

Thus, it didn't come as a shocker last year that Chamisa was sucked into the swirl of residential stands allocation scam in the capital city.

He is accused of being a beneficiary of the scam.

It has since been established that the Chamisa-led outfit has been stripping the urban councils to finance its subversive intentions and fund campaigns for the 2023 harmonised elections.

Chamisa himself was accused of having benefited from a 3 000m2 stand number 19740 in Gunhill and there was no record of payment.

His brother Starman was also allegedly allocated a residential stand measuring 2 000m2 opposite the United States Embassy in Westgate in 2019.

The stand was only paid for recently. On top of that Starman, who stars prominently in alleged sleazy deals involving his brother, owns many other immovable properties, including a residential stand in Sunningdale which was on land meant for a recreational tennis court.

In October 2019, after the anti-corruption hawks, including the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, Special Anti-Corruption Unit, and police swooped on corrupt council officials, there was a lot of noise from MDC-Alliance sympathisers.

Typically, they blamed Government, and without an iota of evidence, alleged that this was an attempt to destabilise opposition-led councils.

Chamisa, to save face, vowed to stamp out corruption in his diminishing fiefdom.

He hastily appointed his special anti-corruption team to investigate and take action against corrupt officials. There were even threats that all councillors implicated in corrupt activities would be recalled from council, but alas, they walked away scot-free.

The committee Chamisa named Integrity and Accountability Panel (IAP), led by Advocate Thabani Mpofu, comprised six officials.

The announcement was the end we heard of the committee.

The brittle façade failed to deceive as it cracked under the weight of public expectation.

The committee was bound to fail from the start mainly because the same councillors it was about to investigate are accused of using the city coffers and land to fund MDC Alliance activities.

There was no way Chamisa would shoot himself in the foot, meaning the appointment of the committee was just meant to be a ruse.

But as the MDC Alliance councillors pay lip service to service delivery, it is the ratepayers who are bearing the brunt of their ineptitude.

Basic services like provision of water, collection of garbage and maintenance of proper roads in Harare are now a thing of the past.

Under the leadership of the MDC Alliance, Harare set an ambitious target of repairing, maintaining and constructing new roads totalling 1 130km last year, but only 28km was completed.

Many, including former MDC stalwarts have lost hope in the opposition as it has failed to inspire confidence. It has failed to root out corruption in not only Harare, but other cities where it has the majority of councillors.

Almost two years now since the appointment of the much-hyped panel and despite tangible evidence of corruption involving land sales in the MDC Alliance-led councils countrywide, including Harare, Chitungwiza, Mutare, Masvingo, and Kadoma, no action has been taken against the officials.

The nation remains in the dark about what happened to the panel, how the process is going, that is if there is anything taking place at all.

Perhaps the corruption investigation was just a mere distraction, a practical joke meant to deceive, but a joke that was devoid of any humour because the weight of poor service delivery is weighing down on ratepayers.

An insatiable penchant for the high life appears to be the dream of many MDC Alliance councillors, while service delivery remains elusive.

Suddenly, Chamisa has fallen silent on the matter, perhaps because no one talks when his mouth is full.

Instead, Zimbabweans saw ZACC and police discharging their constitutional mandate by arresting successive Harare mayors Herbert Gomba and Jacob Mafume, as well as municipal executives like Hosiah Chisango.

Instead of fighting corruption, Chamisa seems to be promoting it by criticising these bodies that are doing their best to save Harare from corrupt elements.

The same goes for other councils, including Chitungwiza, where the mayor, Lovemore Maiko, and a host of councillors were arrested on corruption-related charges.

The opposition party is also yet to act, and Chamisa's committee remains tight-lipped.

In January 2020, Chamisa's spokesperson, Dr Nkululeko Sibanda, stated that the committee would brief the country when "they feel appropriate."

"The president demands the best," he said.

"The panel has begun its work, but is yet to present its findings. The work is intense, so I believe it would be too early to speculate."

But more than a year now, the whole MDC Alliance, including Sibanda himself, are silent on the Integrity and Accountability Panel.

Despite making the right noises on issues such as corruption, Chamisa acquitted himself very badly on this one, especially when it is becoming clear that he hoodwinked residents into thinking he was at the forefront of fighting corruption in Harare.

There is no doubt that Chamisa sold the nation a dummy, and this case is a glaring showcase of his untruthfulness.

The noblest thing he can do now is not only apologise for taking people for a ride, but stop criticising the bodies that are doing their best to clean Harare of corruption.

It is also a wake up call for Harare residents to vote wisely in the next council elections.

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