via Gutu named as the new Mayor of Harare | SW Radio Africa By Tichaona Sibanda
Prominent Harare lawyer and out going deputy Minister of Justice, Obert Gutu, has been chosen by the MDC-T party to become the new mayor of Harare for the next five years.
Gutu replaces lawyer Muchadeyi Masunda, who was said to have been interested in another term in office. He will be deputized by Kambuzuma councillor-elect Thomas Muzuva, who was nominated for the post of deputy mayor by the MDC-T.
The 50 year-old Gutu, who will take a ceremonial oath of office next week, will start off his first term as mayor with a promise to sort out the basics, while getting the city’s ‘sunshine’ status back.
His tenure in office will be defined by the cooperation he gets from the next Local Government Minister, to be appointed in due course. If the new minister decides to be on his back, it will be tough for Gutu as countless mayors and councillors will testify.
Under Ignatious Chombo’s decade long reign as Local Government Minister, several Mayors and councillors lost their jobs due to his crackdown on MDC-T officials.
The new mayor also takes charge of a city with problems all too familiar; a major water crisis, an unacceptably high unemployment rate, battered roads and housing shortages.
Political scientist Gideon Chitanga said the appointment of Gutu as Harare mayor represents a group of emerging leaders who are not tainted by corruption or any wrong doing. Corrupt councillors who represented the MDC-T in the last inclusive government tarnished the image of the party and contributed much to its dismal performance in the July 31st elections.
‘Harare needs investment in infrastructure, transport and housing and in Gutu, the city will be served by people who will not be inspired by self enrichment but who are inspired by public service.
‘Obviously he faces a mammoth task and he should be imaginative and innovative in terms of coming up with good models of local governance that will allow a system that is accountable and also deliver on the needs of the residents of Harare,’ Chitanga said.
The elevation of Gutu from deputy Minister to mayor comes at a time when officials who were part of the inclusive government have re-joined professions they had left in 2009 after being appointed government ministers.
Outgoing ministers Jessie Majome deputy minister of Women and Gender Affairs, Finance minister Tendai Biti, Constitutional Affairs minister Eric Matinenga and deputy minister of Youth Development Indigenisation and Empowerment Tongai Matutu, who are all lawyers, are now reportedly back at their offices.
Prior to joining the coalition government, the four senior MDC members had been running vibrant law firms.
Meanwhile residents in Chitungwiza are up in arms over the appointment of Ward 2 councillor-elect Phillip Mutodi as the town’s deputy mayor.
The Newsday newspaper reported that the residents have disapproved of the appointment, claiming he did not have the requisite qualifications for the post.
MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora told the newspaper the party settled for Mutodi last week following a rigorous selection process.
However in a statement, Chitungwiza Residents Trust (CRT) said: “The MDC-T after its caucus meeting and interviews at Harvest House in Harare, has appointed a man of no known educational, academic or professional credentials or competencies beyond street vending.
The uproar over the deputy mayor coincides with threats by President Robert Mugabe to punish urban dwellers, especially those in Harare and Bulawayo, for ditching him and his party in favour of MDC-T in the just-ended harmonised elections.
Mugabe told his party supporters at the burial of Retired Air Commodore Mike Karakadzai in Harare on Sunday that city dwellers should not come to his government, but go to Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC-T for service delivery, jobs and anything else they may need.
“People from Harare and Bulawayo, to vote for the MDC-T, what do you admire in that party? Now, go and get from the MDC-T what you were promised during the elections,” Mugabe said.