HARARE residents and MDC formations yesterday claimed Zanu PF was behind the chaos in most urban local authorities as part of a grand plan to set the electorate against the opposition ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday accused the MDC Alliance-led councils of failure to provide services and said it was time to boot them out.
But residents and opposition formations said Mnangagwa’s utterances were part of a grand ploy to “steal” from the opposition by setting it up against residents.
“It’s all about electioneering,” Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba said.
“As residents, we have observed with increasing alarm that the central government is suffocating local authorities in Zimbabwe, especially urban local authorities under the control of opposition councillors.
“The President is confirming a long-held agenda of Zanu PF to undermine local authorities run by the opposition in order to make the ratepayers reject the opposition.”
Shumba, however, said the ratepayers were alert and would punish Mnangagwa and Zanu PF in 2023 when the country goes for election.
“The idea, in our view, is that when opposition-led councils fail to deliver, ratepayers will eventually discard them in preference of ruling party candidates,”
Shumba said, adding that central government should address the issue of devolution and stop interfering.
“The citizens are, however, aware that central government still retain executive authority over the approval of budgets, recruitments and dismissal of senior council officials.”
He said in Harare, there were acting directors in all departments except one because the government was yet to appoint the Local Government Board which has the mandate to approve appointments.
Harare is operating without a substantive town clerk and directors except for Prosper Chonzi (health services) as most of them are on suspension and have cases before the courts. This has crippled the city’s capacity to deliver.
He said central government was pursuing a narrow agenda and not the wellbeing of the citizen.
MDC Alliance deputy spokesperson Clifford Hlatywayo said: “He (Mnangagwa) must be booted out first. He has failed the whole nation.”
“Everything has collapsed because of his failure to run the country. Councils don’t exist in isolation. The national economic decay spares no one. This has emanated from 2018 presidential election theft. Zanu PF wants to continue with that, illegally recalling elected MPs and councillors,” he said.
“Mnangagwa must keep quiet on that. We know it’s their election strategy. To suffocate local authorities only to claim MDC Alliance-led local authorities have failed. They have been caught red-handed by the people of Zimbabwe. Let them change the strategy.”
“Zanu PF fired and arrested MDC Alliance councillors then start giving orders, forcing council officials to demolish houses for them to blame MDC Alliance. This trick is known,” he said.
MDC-T spokesperson Witness Dube said Mnangagwa was not sincere in accusing the opposition of corruption as Zanu PF interference was stifling capacity to deliver.
“The emperor is risking running naked by starting to accuse us of corruption when they are actually the archbishops of corruption. Local authorities are failing to work because of bureaucratic hurdles coming from central government,” Dube said.
He said it was unfair to expect local authorities to operate under bureaucratic hurdles created by the Zanu PF government.