OPPOSITION MDC leader Nelson Chamisa has dissuaded his party councillors from challenging siting MPs to avoid destabilising the party, a move likely seen by observers as an act of ring-fencing his current legislators, most of whom are his top allies.
Addressing MDC councillors during the party’s smart city summit in Harare last Wednesday, Chamisa said councillors were the most visible on the ground, but warned them against using their proximity to the people to cause disorder in the party.
“Don’t harass our MPs by challenging them in primaries. Do not use your proximity to the people to cause destabilisation,” Chamisa said.
He said councillors must focus on improving service delivery and also praised them for performing under a “hostile” environment.
“We need people’s rights to be observed, right to water, shelter and other rights. Most of you think of (commercial and residential) stands but there is a bigger agenda,” he said.
“We are aware you are working in hostile environments on account of interference and the economic environment. Even if you are organised, the State disorganises you.
“I am a very organised person in life, but I wake up with no electricity. You can find a professor pushing his vehicle in the street because he has run out of fuel, it doesn’t mean the professor is disorganised; there is no fuel in the country. Government has failed to provide that and is making everyone look disorganised.”
“It is a challenge we are facing, and with Zanu-PF, all cities will be villages if you don’t work. We could be herding goats in our cities now. How can you have procurement in the Office of the President and Cabinet? We know you want to control procurement, you want to control corruption.”
Harare mayor Herbert Gomba said residents, who were council’s biggest debtors together with government and business, were also affected by the economic crisis and high levels of unemployment in the country.
“Our people are not employed and councils are suffering. We hear the unemployment rate is now around 90% and that is even more worrying for us because people fail to pay to council and if people don’t pay, it becomes difficult for us to operate. Things are difficult because we have a government not for the people or by the people so we are facing difficulties,” Gomba said.
MDC deputy local government secretary Clifford Hlatywayo said: “The RTGS currency is failing and losing value every day. This summit is happening at a precarious time for Zimbabwe where we have scarce resources for demanding residents, fuel shortages, a cash crisis and unemployment among other issues. The challenges are too many, but we have to confront them selflessly.”
Bulawayo mayor Solomon Mguni said his city was being affected by bottlenecks and procurement challenges.
“We are also made to implement orders with no legal backing,” he said.