gtag('config', 'UA-12595121-1'); Mnangagwa’s Move to Replace Harare City Council Raises Concerns of Corruption which has Engulfed Govt – The Zimbabwe Mail

Mnangagwa’s Move to Replace Harare City Council Raises Concerns of Corruption which has Engulfed Govt

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HARARE,— President Emmerson Mnangagwa has appointed retired judge Maphios Cheda to lead a commission of inquiry into governance issues at the Harare City Council, a move that critics fear could pave the way for replacing elected councillors with a politically handpicked commission.

Sources indicate that this strategy would enable ZANU PF to control the capital city’s administration, reminiscent of the 2003 scenario when ZANU PF official Sekesai Makwavarara led a commission that governed Harare between 2006 and 2008. Her tenure was marred by allegations of bad governance and misuse of the local authority’s resources.

Ahead of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit scheduled in August, the government appears uneasy about hosting regional leaders in a city managed by the opposition. An insider revealed, “Despite the surface-level thawing of relations between ZANU PF and CCC mayor Jacob Mafume, the ruling party, especially Mnangagwa, is uncomfortable with the opposition governing the capital.”

The source added that there is strong consideration to replace the elected opposition council with a commission led by a ZANU PF stalwart, contingent on the commission of inquiry’s report likely highlighting poor governance by the current council.

ZANU PF officials allegedly favor this approach to facilitate corrupt deals and asset stripping, similar to the Makwavarara commission era. During her tenure, the commission oversaw the disastrous takeover of Harare’s water supply by the state-run Zimbabwe National Water Authority, leading to a collapse in water and sewer services and a subsequent cholera outbreak that claimed thousands of lives. Makwavarara faced accusations of abusing ratepayers’ money and illegally acquiring a council house at a fraction of its value.

The Geo Pomona deal, which opposition councillors resisted, remains a point of contention among ZANU PF leaders, who would prefer a compliant commission to approve such agreements effortlessly.

Harare currently has 45 wards and 14 women’s quota councillors, with the CCC holding a majority. Residents, led by Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba, are adamantly opposed to the imposition of a handpicked commission, deeming it illegal and undemocratic. “Establishing a commission to replace our elected councillors is a direct threat to democracy and will be resisted through all available democratic means,” Shumba asserted.

In a government notice issued on May 12, Mnangagwa outlined the commission’s mandate, covering governance issues since he assumed power in 2017. The inquiry will examine financial management, procurement processes, and council meeting procedures, among other areas.

Local Government and Public Works Minister Daniel Garwe has criticized the Harare City Council’s performance, labeling it the most incompetent in the country. This aligns with ZANU PF’s strategy to eventually install a handpicked commission to run Harare. Garwe emphasized the council’s failures in budget preparation and service delivery, reflecting broader issues of corruption and mismanagement.

At the burial of the late minister of State for Harare metropolitan province, Oliver Chidawu, in July 2022, Mnangagwa vowed to eradicate the “rot” within opposition-led local authorities, highlighting his administration’s commitment to improving governance standards.

As Harare residents and opposition leaders brace for potential political upheaval, the outcome of the commission of inquiry will be pivotal in determining the future governance of Zimbabwe’s capital city.