Saviour Kasukuwere strikes

Source: Saviour Kasukuwere strikes | The Financial Gazette September 22, 2016

The eagle has landed.
Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Saviour Kasukuwere this week arrived in the City of Kings and immediately accomplished a mission many had suspected his ruling ZANU-PF party to have harboured for many years.
Kasukuwere, who in May appointed a team to investigate some dodgy land deals, boisterously strolled into Bulawayo on Tuesday to suspend five councillors from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T)-led city council over allegations of corruption.
Bulawayo City Council (BCC) becomes the country’s first casualty of Kasukuwere’s well-calculated shenanigans that were set off by the enactment of the Local Government Amendment Bill, now an Act which gives him the powers to fire or suspend councillors accused of any form of misdemeanour.
The combative Minister has, since last year, been unable to act at will after the courts ruled him offside on several occasions for unconstitutionally suspending councillors.
The suspension of the MDC-T councillors signals that the ruling ZANU-PF party now has complete control of not only Bulawayo, but all councils, bringing to life the MDC-T’s worst fears of a ZANU-PF take-over of its former urban strongholds.
The suspension of the five councillors, Charles Moyo (Ward nine), Mzama Dube (Ward 25), Reuben Matengu (Ward 21) and James Sithole (Ward seven), and deputy mayor Gift Banda, graphically represents the beginning of woes awaiting MDC-T-led councils.
“In the interest of allowing council to operate as an autonomous body in line with devolution, I have been watching Bulawayo, but when a council does not operate within the parameters of our laws, then it is my constitutional duty to intervene and that is why I am here today.
“I will be leaving my officials to deal with the specific issues. They will facilitate the council to come up with a recovery matrix and based on the co-operation and the actual matrix, I will make my final decision regarding the Bulawayo City Council,” declared Kasukuwere.
Now backed by the law, Kasukuwere is well on course to reconfigure all the country’s local authorities as he wishes.
With elections less than two years away, the suspension easily marks the start of ZANU-PF’s unofficial push to gain control of the city council.
The probe into BCC was sparked by a petition from the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BUPRA) in April, which alleged impropriety and that the city fathers were allocating themselves vast tracts of land at concessionary rates, while prejudicing the nearly 100 000 city residents on the housing waiting list.
The city fathers had vehemently denied any wrong-doing on their part and said all the land deals had been above board. At the centre of the storm was Gift Banda, the deputy mayor of Bulawayo who acquired prime land in the country’s second largest city’s Ascot area at values BUPRA alleged to be less than the actual value of the properties.
Bulawayo mayor, Martin Moyo, had said the city fathers were eagerly awaiting the release of the report by the investigations team.
But political observers intimate that the ultimate prize would be the axing or suspension of Moyo as the city’s mayor.
The removal of Moyo would mean that the country’s two largest cities of Harare, the capital and Bulawayo, would effectively have succumbed to Kasukuwere’s control, setting the stage for ZANU-PF to plot the control of the cities from within.
Obert Gutu, the MDC-T’s spokesperson, said the suspensions in Bulawayo were not a surprise since Kasukuwere had never made it a secret that he would like to wrestle control of Harare and Bulawayo away from the opposition.
“It is part and parcel of the grand plan by the collapsing ZANU-PF regime to engage in a smear campaign against MDC-T councillors in all urban authorities that we control. There is absolutely no justifiable reason for the suspension of Banda, together with the other four councillors,” said Gutu.
“If anything, BCC is arguably the best run local authority in Zimbabwe. What Kasukuwere has done is simply to put into effect the nefarious agenda of the ZANU-PF regime to destabilise and cause alarm and despondency within Bulawayo municipality. The same recently suspended the mayor of Harare, Bernard Manyenyeni, on spurious, unfounded and nebulous allegations of corruption,” he added.
Meanwhile, the new Bulawayo town clerk, Christopher Dube is set to assume his duties next month.
Dube was the Victoria Falls town clerk and beat more than 40 applicants for the city’s top job.
The responsibilities of the town clerk include having oversight of six units in the BCC which include public relations, city economic development, audit, work study, human resources and training.
Dube faces the mammoth task of spearheading the city’s development. This is no easy task because the second largest city faces dwindling financial resources in the wake of company closures and de-industrialisation, which has afflicted the city’s productivity.
In addition, the BCC is owed millions of dollars by ratepayers who are failing to meet their obligations to the local authority.