via Bulawayo24 NEWS | Shocking revelations as Tsvangirai meets mayors by Luke Tamborinyoka 17 January 2014
Former Prime Minister, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai today met all mayors and council chairpersons elected on the party ticket to understand how they are operating in improving service deliver to the people.
Tsvangirai was shocked at the information he received from the mayors on how service delivery had been grievously undermined by political interference particularly from Zanu PF politicians, especially Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo.
It emerged in the meeting that revenues had dwindled in almost all the local authorities especially after Chombo ordered councils to cancel all debts in the run-up to the July 31 election.
After that move councils are struggling even to raise money forsalaries, let alone to invest in delivery projects like water and sanitation, roads, refuse collection and housing, among other key deliverables.
In the city of Gweru, after Chombo’s populist decision, revenues dwindled from $2 million per month to $500 000 against a salary bill of about $600 000.
In Chitungwiza, which turned out to have the most problems, revenues dwindled to $1 million per month against a wage bill of $1,7 million, meaning there will be nothing for service delivery and other capital expenditure.
It emerged that Chitungwiza was a major victim of political interference after a large tracts of council land were parceled out to party barons, huge numbers of Zanu PF supporters were illegally recruited while some party functionaries are collecting rent for council properties.
As a result, almost all the councils are in arrears in the payment of salaries as councils begin to reel from the effect of Zanu PF’s populist decisions to cancel debts.
It also turned out that all mayors and chairpersons elected on an MDC-T ticket were not privy to thesalaries of their town clerks and council management, which was being kept a secret.
Other problems that emerged ranged from acute housing backlogs in almost all the councils due to shortage of land, poor refuse collection, poor roads and water and sanitation as well as unplanned settlements mostly spearheaded by Zanu PF barons.
Councils are also reeling from overstaffing after unqualified employees were recruited on political lines ahead of the last election.
Furthermore, it emerged in the meeting that Zinara illegally usurped council responsibilities of collecting vehicle licensing thereby negatively affecting council revenue inflows.
Tsvangirai told the mayors and council chairpersons that they were in charge of the cities and towns and the buck stops with them.
He urged them to be innovative and to prioritize service delivery to the residents. At the end of the day, they would be judged on the basis of their record.
The MDC-T leader expressed shock that the mayors did not know the salaries of their management. He said it would be difficult for the mayors to ascertain whether they had achieved the desired ratio of 70:30 of the expenditure on service delivery to salaries if they did not know the salaries of their subordinates.
The meeting expressed concern on the delay in implementing the Constitutional requirement on provincial councils especially for the metropolitan provinces of Harare and Bulawayo.