By Wisdom Mumera
The last embers of any opposition control of Harare’s City Council were doused out with the arrest of former Mayor Jacob Mafume.
Before him Mayor Herbert Gomba has been initially arrested and then recalled.
His replacement and former Deputy, Enock Mupamawonde was also recalled.
Mafume came in through the PDP connection.
The initial bid for a political recall failed. He was arrested.
Since the arrest he has been bogged down in endless court battles such that his continued use of ‘Mayor’ title on social media smacks of air punches.
In the meantime Harare City Council has been taken over by a clique of pseudo-opposition members whose operational ethos is encapsulated in their leader’s diplomatic but contextually misplaced and naive, ‘rational disputation’.
In its alleged soberness of approach the philosophy is actually a frantic and timid search for political relevance.
It’s the false moral high ground of a prayerful Pharisee.
Harare and the country’s state no longer have room for middle roads which lack the necessary probity needed for progress.
Resident Organisations Stepping Up
Nelson Chamisa’s MDC Alliance is stuttering, subsisting on sheer goodwill and the mirage-blink of hope in the ‘future’ and residents have been left to their own whims.
Residents’ organisations have sought to fill the gap, standing up against central government in a bid to get services, to reduce government’s control of local authorities or fulfilment of constitutional mandates.
This has been characteristic across many other towns where residents’ organisations are taking authorities to court.
In Masvingo, the Masvingo Residents and Ratepayers Association (MURRA) took authorities to court over water shortages.
This year MURRA has already petitioned Parliament of Zimbabwe over water shortages whilst in 2018 it filed an application at the High Court.
It sought to compel the local authority to alleviate the water shortages.
In Harare the Harare Residents Trust (HRT), Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) have also been doing the legwork over various service delivery issues.
In Chitungwiza, the Chitungwiza Residents Trust has also done the same in representing residents.
Most recently Chitrest and Harare Residents Trust recently obtained a High Court order by Justice Mushore stopping local and central government from carrying out un-procedural demolitions of homes, perimeter walls and informal structures.
Such has been the important role of residents’ organisation central government has begun taking a different perception of their role and use.
Government Changing Tactics
Whereas these resident organisations have been passively dismissed before, government has now stepped up a gear lately in confronting them.
In his statement over the demolitions in Harare Metropolitan, Development Coordinator Tafadzwa Muguti accused Chitrest of being an actual creation of the politicians.
The inference from his statement was that the organisation like others like it is fighting government programs.
“Politicians and former Councilors have now started forming residents’ trusts such as Chitungwiza Residents Trust among others.
“Last year I was taken to court for stopping those on bail from returning to work until investigations and court was over.
This exposes the narrative.
“I know you know that we now know who stole what and what was financing your political ambitions,” he said.
12. Politicians & former councillors have now started forming residents trusts such as Chitungwiza Residents Trust among many others. Last year I was taken to court for stopping those on bail from returning to work until investigations & court was over. This exposes the narrative pic.twitter.com/VU6lyhUhLK
— Tafadzwa E. Muguti (@TMuguti) June 13, 2021
This week Chitrest leader Alice Kuvheya was arrested and charged with incitement as defined in Section 187 of the Criminal Code.
It is alleged that she communicated or persuaded people to commit a crime by circulating a video in which she allegedly challenged the rationale by local and central government to carry out demolitions.
Her lawyer argued that she had even been abused.
With nearly 30 councillors missing from Council mainly due to recalls residents currently have no representation besides these organisations.
Residents’ organisations are the remaining front which can stand for residents in seeking value for their money and protection from arbitrary government actions.
Whilst the season of recalling Councilors appears to be gone, it however seems another episode against residents organisation is upon us.