Source: Tough times ahead for MDC-T | The Financial Gazette November 3, 2016
VICE President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently threw his weight behind spirited efforts by Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere to clean up Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T)- dominated local authorities accused of graft, a clear sign that the opposition party is in for tough times ahead.
The MDC-T lost the 2013 elections to ZANU-PF, but retained control of most urban local authorities.
None of these municipalities has been free from allegations of corruption and general mismanagement.
ZANU-PF has been trying to win back the MDC-T-led councils by getting rid of councillors, accusing of lining their pockets at the expense of service delivery.
The strategy has been bolstered by a new law that gives the Local Government Minister sweeping powers to remove from office mayors, chairpersons and councillors for any alleged misdemeanours.
These include their inability to perform the functions of their office due to mental or physical incapacity; gross incompetence; gross misconduct; conviction of an offence involving dishonesty, corruption or abuse of office; and willful violation of the law, including a local authority by-law.
Armed with the law, Kasukuwere suspended five Bulawayo councillors recently, namely: deputy mayor, Gift Banda, Charles Moyo (Ward 9), James Sithole (Ward 7), Mzana Dube (Ward 25) and Rueben Matengu (Ward 21).
They were accused of using their positions to illegally award themselves housing stands.
A fortnight ago, Mnangagwa told Kasukuwere, who is also the ZANU-PF political commissar, to crackdown on the Norton Town Council.
This was after the Local Government Minister claimed that there was serious rot in the small town, 40 kilometres west of Harare.
He alleged that several MDC-T councillors had grabbed industrial and residential stands that they never paid for.
Mnangagwa described Kasukuwere as a fearless Minister who carried instructions from his superiors to their satisfaction.
“They (MDC councillors in Norton) are corrupt,” Mnangagwa told a ZANU-PF rally in Norton while drumming up support for the party’s candidate in the recent by-election.
“Navo navo macouncillors acho (Go after them!) Tinaye mukomana asingazeze. Ukangoti sa, regera uone, monovata zvenyu (We have a fearless guy. Once you set him on them, you know the job will be done). We (ZANU-PF) are the majority. We determine who builds a road and we determine who builds a dam. No other party can do that,” said the Vice President, as he urged voters to back ZANU-PF candidate, Ronald Chindedza, who lost to independent candidate, Temba Mliswa.
Critics and those in the opposition see the clampdown on MDC-T dominated councils as part of a strategy to destabilise the party, ZANU-PF’s strongest challenger since 2000.
Kasukuwere has already set his sights on at least two councillors in Norton.
One of the councilors was said to have bought a 6 800 square-metre stand for US$8 800, but did not pay a dime for it, while the other was said to have bought a 567-square-metre stand, but failed to pay for it.
Kasukuwere said Norton council was bent on inflicting pain on residents, instead of attending to their needs.
“We got Norton (constituency during the last elections), but council is not in our hands. They are stealing, they are hurting people. The MDC-T council has failed to administer. There is no water in Norton, there are no boreholes. The new MP (Member of Parliament) must be supported by a strong leadership (to address the problems). I will use a strong broom to clean up Norton,” said the Minister.
Kasukuwere later told the Financial Gazette that the cleanup on MDC-T dominated councils was not politically motivated.
“We are not only going to be investigating the councils run by the MDC-T, but (all councils) where there is corruption. This is not an exercise which is targeted at any political party; we just want to clean up the local government sector,” he said.
MDC-T spokesman, Obert Gutu, rejected suggestions that their councillors in Norton were corrupt.
He said there was more corruption in ZANU-PF than in the MDC-T.
“That is just politics. ZANU-PF is the Alpha and Omega of corruption. How can Lucifer accuse anyone of spreading hearsay? Our councillors are not corrupt. The ZANU-PF regime is just desperate to regain control of Norton constituency at whatever cost,” said Gutu.
People Democratic Party’ secretary for economic affairs, Vince Museve, said there was a disturbing trend in Zimbabwe whereby ZANU-PF ruthlessly goes after people who do not support it, but when its own members were involved in corruption issues, they ignored it.
“The Jonathan Moyo case is one example. ZANU-PF sees itself as the judge and jury and this is not good for elections. They allocated their supporters national resources in the form of stands,” Musewe added.