The arresting of Chitungwiza Mayor Maiko on abuse of office charges has solidified the long-abiding suspicion that government doesn’t have clean hands in dealings with Councils.
Most of its interventions and endevours have been rooted in political moves and efforts aimed at undercutting Councils, seen as extensions of the Chamisa-led MDC Alliance.
Whilst the moves can be defended as anti-corruption fights, their being limited to Council and not central government where even bigger amounts of money have been abused raises questions.
Even more so when one assess the sentiments of some central government employees.
Partisan Civil Servants
There have been the sentiments expressed by the Information Permanent Secretary Nick Mangwana whom many would expect, as a civil servant, to be non-partisan and professional.
Mr Mangwana has frequently expressed disdain and scoffed at the Harare City Council in various low-blows which betray his political inclinations and are very much removed from his actual position as a civil servant.
In line with the apparent ZANU PF political motives, Mangwana has also driven the agenda for the appointment of a Commission.
Commissions Have Not Worked
This move is not supported by any historical precedent as most if not all Commissions previously installed in Harare have been disastrous.
Their allegiance to the appointing authority and lack of accountability to the residents they serve has led to years of dereliction of duty and stagnation in development.
Newly installed Provincial Development Coordinator (PDC) Tafadzwa Muguti has also seemingly adopted the same narrative of Mangwana.
Under the guise of fighting corruption, he has issued thinly veiled attacks at the Council whereas his position is expected to bridge the gap between Council and central government and moderate progress not rancid partisanship.
A Limited Central Gvt
Central government has not covered itself in shining colours as it has struggled or failed to fulfil its mandate to build various dams such as Kunzvi years after promising.
Instead it has intermittently dove in with cheap bail-outs whilst lagging in the concrete developments for which it is mandated.
These bail-outs have been repeatedly celebrated as the government’s (read ZANU PF) ability to run Councils instead of the MDC which dominates them.
The end result of this seeming sabotage has been continued challenges in the capital.
Water remains a nightmare for Harare and the dependent towns of Chitungwiza and Norton.
Instead of working with Council to come up with solutions, central government has taken comfort in celebrating the failures by the MDC Alliance and used that to canvas for support from the urbanites.
Add to all this the political machinations which have resulted in the recalling of over 20 Councilors and the picture of a Council under siege is complete.
Council itself hasn’t helped matters as the cases of corruption which have seen various Councilors and management being arrested.
Central government has simply taken advantage of this to advance its own political agendas.
The end result has been the suffering of residents as they seem not able to get anything from the supposed service providers.
What is apparent from all the myriad issues Harare faces is that the mentality in the leaders is all wrong.
No one is providing leadership but everyone is thinking of their political future.
They are all dreaming and thinking of elections and defeating each other politically.
Central government has failed to be the big brother and continues operating with a myopic mind-set whilst Council has remained stifled and failed to get a grasp on the situation.
The collateral damage to citizens has been extensive.