The opposition’s secondary sanctions against urbanites

Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume taking a nap.
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In 2015, then MDC-T Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni, who is also a businessman, bemoaned the poor calibre of politicians his party fielded for local authority polls as candidates.

By Nobleman Runyanga

The former mayor said his party had deployed “functionally illiterate councillors”.

Manyenyeni’s predecessor, lawyer and businessman Muchadeyi Masunda, also made a similar complaint.

Manyenyeni pointed out that back in 1927, the capital city had two lawyers among its councillors.

Nearly a century later, he said, the same local authority lacked councillors of the leadership pedigree needed to run a modern-day city like Harare.

He did not just complain, but went on to advise his party to field better candidates in the 2018 local authority election.

When Masunda and Manyenyeni advised that the city required competent councillors, they were labelled elitists by the party and the councillors who had got into Town House on the basis of political popularity rather than their ability to serve Harare residents.

Most of them contested for seats at Town House not for the love of serving Harare residents, but the attendant perquisites such as free stands, and building political clout for their parliamentary bids by employing opposition youths in various City of Harare departments and establishments.

Enter Mafume

When MDC Alliance candidate Jacob Mafume won the ward 17 seat (Mount Pleasant) in the July 2018 harmonised elections, Manyenyeni and Masunda must have called each other to celebrate the entry of a lawyer into the Town House council chambers.

They must have been beside themselves with joy when Mafume was elected Harare mayor in September 2020 to replace Herbert Gomba, who had been recalled by the MDC-T.  Clearly, the two former mayors’ joy was misplaced. As it turned out, Mafume was a disappointment.

He is a disappointment to the residents of Harare, and all its stakeholders.

Apparently, he behaves like the rest of the unschooled opposition councillors, who do not know when it is time to play politics and when to act as a responsible civic leader and serve the residents, irrespective of their political affiliation. Despite his education, Mafume has only managed to show the world the kind of twisted politics that his party stands for.  His party stands for the West’s determined assault on the innocent people of Zimbabwe.

The party derives joy from the suffering of the people in the vain hope that they will rise up against Government, thereby enable the opposition to assume State power through the backdoor. Mafume’s behaviour and the way he discharges his duties resonate with the essence of the United States’ sanctions against Zimbabwe as enshrined in the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA) of 2001.

When the legislation was put in place, the US government used euphemism such as “democracy” and “economic recovery” to justify it, but the true spirit of the demonic law is encapsulated in the words of former US assistant secretary of State for African Affairs, Chester Crocker, on June 13, 2000, when he said that the intention was “to separate the Zimbabwean people from ZANU PF”.

In the minds of the Americans, they would achieve their objective by destabilising the country’s economy.

In his own words, Crocker said: “We are going to have to make their economy scream.”

While Mafume and his predecessors might not have the power to strangle Harare’s economy, they have been following Crocker’s script wherever they can.

In pursuit of this, Mafume has reduced himself to a political activist to fight ZANU PF.

In a bid to please the local opposition leadership and their American handlers, Mafume has made it his main objective to fight ZANU PF and Government, instead of serving Harare residents as per his mandate.

This explains why each time residents and other stakeholders ask him to explain the awfully bad service delivery in the city, he blames the Minister of Local Government and Public Works Cde July Moyo, whom he falsely accuses of micromanaging the daily operations of the local authority.

In line with Crocker’s bid to separate the people from ZANU PF, Mafume shamelessly and falsely accuses Minister Moyo of requiring the municipality to submit, for his approval, even a request to purchase something as mundane as toilet paper.

Hindrance to projects

In the two or so years that Mafume has been in charge of the council that oversees the operations of the City of Harare, he has become the personification of both incompetence and sabotage.

He oversees the CCC’s secondary sanctions against the residents of Harare.

One of the foremost examples of Mafume’s role in fighting ZANU PF, Government and Harare residents is his apparent sabotage of the Pomona waste-to-energy deal between the City of Harare and Geogenix BV.

Despite the benefits of the project such as modern methods of recycling Harare’s waste and the generation of electricity from the city’s garbage, Mafume attempted to scuttle the project by convening a full council meeting in June this year to reverse the deal.

Only last month, Mafume angered soccer-loving Harare residents when Sakunda Holdings, which had offered to renovate the 50-year-old Rufaro Stadium, pulled out of the deal, citing toxicity, non-co-operation and the peddling of falsehoods by the CCC-dominated local authority that the company intended to purchase the asset.

The planned renovation included installation of bucket seats, refurbishing of the sewer and water reticulation system and construction of a road to the soccer stadium.

Realising that his council’s behaviour had infuriated many people, including soccer-loving CCC members, instead of apologising and inviting Sakunda to the table to iron out any differences, Mafume, in his trademark foot-in-the mouth manner of speaking, accused the company of trying to acquire the stadium for a song.

He went on to shamelessly claim that the local authority would refurbish the stadium using its own resources.

The question that many asked was: With which resources, when the municipality is failing to carry out basic tasks like refuse collection? This was not the first time the opposition sanctioned residents by prioritising politics over their welfare.

In 2014, a local cigarette manufacturer, Savannah Tobacco (which was later renamed Pacific Tobacco), offered an almost similar deal in exchange for renaming of Rufaro Stadium but the opposition councillors scuttled that deal as well.

They were worried more about how they would benefit personally from the deal than the benefits that would accrue to the municipality, the city and the residents.

They also played politics by walking away from the US$10 million deal because the company is owned by the late former President Robert Mugabe’s relative, Adam Molai. In 2017, Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministry’s Walter Magaya put before Chitungwiza Municipality an offer to renovate the 43-year-old Chibuku Stadium and make it the home ground for his Yadah FC football team.  The opposition-dominated Chitungwiza Town Council turned down the deal.

Magaya was turned down obviously because the councillors would not benefit personally from the deal.

Five years later, the stadium remains dilapidated and its renovation remains one of the investment projects for which it is looking for partners.

It is ironic and sad that Chibuku Stadium was built through a partnership between the then Chitungwiza Urban Council and the then Chibuku Breweries in 1979, but the opposition is denying ready investors a chance which Chibuku was given back then.

It is strangling residents by saddling them with dilapidated infrastructure so that it can blame central Government for its own (opposition’s) failure.

What can one say of the biogas project in Mbare, which was expected to provide 100 kilowatts of electricity to Mbare residents from the Mbare Musika vegetable waste?

The City of Harare executives bungled the project in which the European Union put in US$400 000, and the opposition-dominated local authority did nothing to save it.

As of 2017, it was reported to be 90 percent complete, but five years later, it remains dead in the water.

Opposition’s greed and corruption

Apart from giving residents a raw deal in the area of potential investments that could improve the faces of urban spaces, the opposition majors more in corruption and self-enrichment than serving the electorate.

It then blames the resultant poor service on Government.

As I write, Mafume has a case before the courts in which he is facing charges of selling municipal land in Westlea to his relatives ahead of bona fide home seekers on the city’s housing waiting list.

Instead of seeking partners to refurbish the city’s recreation areas such as golf courses, the opposition-dominated urban local authority is corruptly selling off such facilities.

In 2019, the opposition councillors at Town House corruptly sold the 24-hectare Mount Pleasant Golf Club.

The Sherwood Golf Club and the Warren Hills Golf Club are the next targets.

Whenever Mafume is asked about the very poor state of the capital city’s roads, he has nothing else to say except to demand that Government returns the motor vehicle licensing function from the Zimbabwe National Road Administration to the City of Harare, arguing that the city has the most vehicles.

The truth, however, is that he wishes to preside over the cash-rich vehicle licensing function so that he and fellow councillors can personally benefit by dipping into the cookie jar and siphoning from the municipal purse to fund his cash-strapped party.

Time to shovel out the opposition

As the 2023 elections beckon, fed-up residents should seriously consider removing from power those who have imposed secondary sanctions on them.

Fed-up football lovers across the political divide in Chitungwiza and Harare should vote out the political scoundrels at Town House and the Chitungwiza head office, who have denied them good sports facilities.

Urban residents in the 28 urban spaces superintended by the CCC who are denied basic services should take the matter into their own hands by voting out those who are denying them water and refuse collection services.

Government can intervene by providing other services such as road repairs but it cannot remove the perpetrators of poor service and corruption for the residents.

They should respond to the opposition’s set of secondary sanctions against them by consigning its councillors to Zimbabwe’s political dustbin in 2023. – Sunday Mail