By Munesu Nyakudya
The big question among some residents has been why service delivery has remained and even gotten very poor despite the constant wins by the political alternative that is MDC Alliance.
The opposition party has been running Harare since the turn of the millennium.
Harare has 46 Wards and the party has 45 seats against ZANU-PF which has 1, in Clr Martin Matinyanya
Clr Gomba was unanimously elected as Mayor after the only ZANU-PF Councillor Martin Matinyanya, who had nominated himself, failed to get a seconder.
Cllr Matinyanya also tried his luck on the post of deputy mayor but fell on the wayside after failing to get an endorsement.
This shows the dominance of the opposition in the Council business.
So why is the party failing to get its way and bring the change it purports to advance?
According to the party, it cannot do better than the larger macro-economic state of the country and will always suffer the repercussions of the hiccupping and ZANU PF-run economy.
This is a fair point to make.
Macro-economic factors have been felt in the valueless RTGS, Ecocash and Bond currencies which the Council is collecting from residents but which cannot offset the expenditure balances for things like water chemicals which are procured in foreign currency.
This is a national matter beyond the Council. ZANU has overseen the monetary loss of value.
The RBZ has also been accused of failing to provide the Council with the forex, whether this is by chance or design is debatable.
Thus from this end, the Council is actually at the mercy of greater complexities which are beyond the powers of their dominance in the Chambers.
Administratively the Town Clerk is one of the most powerful positions in local governance with arguments that ZANU PF never allows anyone they view as opposition to occupy the post.
This ZANU PF does through controlling the Local Government Board which appoints the Town Clerk. Thus anyone who finds himself in that position is a sure bet that his loyalty does not lie far from the ruling party.
Incidentally, the opposition has had problems with Town Clerks such as Dr Tendai Mahachi and Josephine Ncube who was wanted for that position by ZANU PF instead of James Mushore, favoured by the opposition.
There is a strong suspicion, underpinned by past scenarios, that whilst the opposition controls Council Chambers through Councilors, ZANU PF controls Council management.
In fact, the opposition has grappled with Council management with names such as Chamber Secretary Josephine Ncube, Finance Director Cosmos Zvakaramba, Director of Water Christopher Zvogbo, as well as City Treasurer Misheck Mubvumbi coming into the matter.
An added layer to the issue is through the Minister of Local Government, currently, July Moyo, who is empowered through the Urban Council’s Act to practically oversee Council.
Whereas Moyo’s hand has not been heavy upon Council his predecessors such as Saviour Kasukuwere and Ignatius Chombo were different.
They virtually made Council an extension of their Ministerial fiefdoms and sought to sway and direct everything to their discretion.
With the UCA stating that “the Minister shall have unrestricted access to all council records, minutes and any documents in the possession of any council which relate to the council’s meetings, resolutions and affairs”, they have all the inside information.
Thus running the Council becomes a delicate balancing act of two powerful political organisations, each with its own advantages over the other.
Bulawayo Council recently showed this scenario by renaming its streets only for the government to overturn the move days later.
As for the dire state of service delivery, it becomes an issue of shared responsibilities as both parties, through the channels of power they control, need to act sincerely to change the situation and move beyond seeking to win political battles through the suffering of the residents.
By and large, the ailing economy remains the biggest challenge to normal service delivery and the incumbency lies upon ZANU PF to revive it.