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The MDC's chequered stewardship of our urban areas

16 Oct 2019 at 11:55hrs | Views
The MDC's chequered stewardship of our urban areas

Nobleman Runyanga

The opposition party, the MDC cut its teeth into elections in 2000. Since then it has been winning almost the same local authority and national assembly seats mainly in urban areas.

Despite being in place for two decades and competing against one of the strongest revolutionary political parties in Southern Africa, the MDC continues to wobble along without a definite and convincing ideology. This explains its dominance in urban areas where the electorate does not mind whether a political party has an ideology or not because the people only worry about their stomachs. Over the years the party has depended largely on people who are disgruntled by the on-going economic challenges.

Repaying trust with impoverishment
Despite the trust which urbanites have invested in MDC candidates for 20 years poll after poll, the gesture has gone unrequited. Instead of treating well the only people who have stood with the party for long, despite increasing evidence of the foolhardiness of continuing to do so, the winning MDC councillors and legislators election term after election term have demonstrated that they are in politics more for self-enrichment than serving people.

Consecutive MDC-dominated urban councils have torn municipality master plans' requirements and provisions for road reserves, power line corridors, recreation areas, schools and churches to create residential stands for own use and for re-sale. This anomaly has created very crowded and unsightly towns and cities which makes them unattractive to residents, visitors and would be investors. This malpractice has changed the face of cities and towns such as Chitungwiza which were well planned but have been reduced to haphazard-looking settlements.

Dirt, disease and death
Instead of repaying the urban residents' votes with service excellence, MDC legislators and councillors have presided over the deterioration of the urbanite's quality of life. Urban women now live the rural life of queuing at communal boreholes to secure water for domestic use. When the municipal water taps have water coming out of them it is frightening to look at, due to its dirty colour, let alone drink.

Councillors who oversee municipalities simply stopped ensuring that local authorities provide  basic services such as the removal of refuse and cleaning of streets among others, opting to blame central Government and ZANU PF for their own shortcomings. This has resulted in several outbreaks of waterborne disease such as cholera and typhoid. When this happens the municipalities and the MDC-dominated councillors fold their arms while people die until central Government, which they blame for their own shortcomings, and well wishers such as Econet Wireless' Higher Life charity organisation come to the rescue of the people.

Shameless nepotism
A week ago the City of Harare, the citadel of the MDC-dominated local authorities' shenanigans made headlines following the discovery of a nepotism scandal which involved not only serving councillors but even the opposition party's national leaders. Some of the surnames of the recently recruited municipal workers included Chamisa, Mwonzora, Gomba, Mandere and Muzuva among others.

The racket goes beyond mere names. The Harare City Council does not employ people. The City of Harare, the municipality, does. Councillors connive with municipal executives to secure jobs for their relatives and ward party members. The councillors return the favour by looking the other way while the executive keep their obscenely high salaries and perks at a time when the local authority's workforce's salaries and wages are in arrears.

The councillors also look the other way while the executives blatantly disregard Government's stipulation for urban local authorities to allocate only 30 percent to salaries and wages and commit the rest to service delivery. For years Harare executives' salaries and perks take up over 80 percent of the city's revenue and the councillors do not raise so much as a finger about the anomaly. This is because the executives also facilitate the acquisition of pieces of land even in undesignated areas by the councillors. This is what the MDC leader, Nelson Chamisa means when he says zvanza zvinogezana/ izandla ziyagezana (scratch my back and I'll scratch yours).

Incompetence and outright graft

The MDC-dominated Harare City Council members sit in chamber meetings drinking tea while the country's capital city burns. A recent audit of the operations of the city's Department of Works allegedly misrepresented that one road construction contractor, Fossil Contracting had completed the rehabilitation of a 1.2 kilometre stretch of Kelvin Road in Graniteside when, in fact, no work had been done at all. For the job which was not done, Fossil was paid $1.7 million.

Stories of the late Vimbai Tsvangirai-Java being irregularly awarded tenders to supply the city with water cleaning chemicals because she was the MDC founding leader, the late Morgan Tsvangirai's daughter also abound.

Apart from benefitting from land and the employment of relatives, the MDC also shamelessly benefits in various other illegal and irregular ways from its dominance of Harare. For example the party, through its Vanguard youth militia literary "own"  and benefit from the parking slots in front of the MDC's Harvest House national headquarters from Angwa Street to First Street.

The youths have also taken over the stretch of Angwa Streets between Nelson Mandela Avenue and Kwame Nkrumah Avenue where they collect parking fees from members of the motoring public who they terrorise. Even the city's parking services company staff has reluctantly surrendered these parking lots and revenue therefrom to the MDC.

This scenario also prevails in other parts of the city where councillors have carved parking fiefdoms from which they personally benefit from the revenue so collected. For many years the MDC has taken advantage of its dominance in the Harare City Council to refuse to pay for Harvest House building rates to the City of Harare. So much for the party which claims excellence and routinely accuses ZANU PF and Government of not ensuring that the rule of law is upheld in the country.

The frontage of Harvest House has also become a no go area for innocent residents, vendors and citizens who are also harassed for no reason by drug-drunk MDC yobs. For this reason most people avoid that part of the city costing neighbouring retail outlets business despite paying for their licences and rates.

Local failure should not be given a chance blight the country

The local authorities which the MDC preside over are just a fraction of the whole country. The power that it exercises over them is only a small part of the authority that it would have if, by the unlikely stroke of luck, it wins a presidential election. One shudders to imagine what Zimbabwe would be like, if the immature opposition party was in charge of the whole county.

Fortunately, urbanites and Zimbabweans have an opportunity every five years to avoid that nightmare from becoming a reality. They have a regular chance to stop the Harare kind of MDC-induced rot from spreading to the rest of the country by voting out the lawless and corrupt party out of power.

 Urbanites have a daily chance to nip MDC corruption in the bud by reporting it to the relevant authorities such as the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), the police or the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing. There has to be a limit to which residents can continue supporting MDC graft and greed through their hard-earned rates.

Source - Nobleman Runyanga
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