The Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Saviour Kasukuwere yesterday suspended all the 25 councillors of Chitungwiza Municipality including the Mayor, Phillip Mutoti. The councillors were suspended on allegations of contravening section 114 of the Urban Councils Act and are charged of gross incompetence, gross misconduct and willful violation of the law in the management of funds
or affairs of council.
The Chitungwiza Residents Trust (Chitrest) continues to condemn corruption in any place, be it at a council, in government or in any sector. In that spirit, those councillors that are caught on the wrong side of the law must be brought to book. It is however difficult for the residents and other stakeholders to believe that all the 25
councillors are corrupt.
The constitution of Zimbabwe gives the local authorities the independence to conduct their operations in their own initiatives. The central government is given a supervisory role by the constitution but not to interfere and cripple the governing by local authorities. The Ministry of Local Government is there to ensure that the local authorities serve the interests of the residents and ratepayers. Chitrest wonders if the move by the Ministry will best cater for the
interests of the residents and ratepayers who are currently being forced to endure a poor quality of service delivery among other challenges.
Chitrest and other stakeholders also question the timing and logic behind the replacement of elected councillors by appointed commissioners who will be serving at the behest of the Minister and accounting to the appointing authority and not the electorate. Chitungwiza has had more than five commissions in the past for various
matters including land management and allocation, but most of these commissions, if not all, have failed to address the challenges bedeviling the town and its residents. The previous commissions have managed to drain the council’s revenue through allowances for commissioners and other related expenses whereas the quality of service delivery continues to deteriorate. The municipality’s debt has also ballooned unabated while these commissions perpetually milk the starving cash cow.
Chitrest therefore calls for the Ministry to rediscover its sober senses and put in place a framework that will ensure that the challenges being experienced by the Municipality are dealt with and be brought to finality forthwith.