via ‘Chombo has overstayed’ – DailyNews Live 20 MARCH 2014
Ignatius Chombo, the fabulously rich minister of Local Government and National Housing is one of the few senior government officials whose assets have been publicly exposed.
He was just another ordinary man when he was a university lecturer but suddenly became rich after entering government.
Apart from his impressive assets, mainly real estate in virtually all towns across Zimbabwe, there is little that is positive that he is known for. He has done nothing to improve infrastructure in the country nor deliver on national housing provision.
When government destroyed homes of close to a million people in an operation code named Murambatsvina in 2005, Chombo came up with operation Garikai/Hlalani kuhle, a monumental flop that failed to assist the Murambatsvina victims who are now dwellers in “plastic mansions” that rumble with the wind in camps such as Caledonia and Hopley farms.
His meddling in the running of local authorities have proved to be the exact antithesis of progress.
For instance, he quashed the suspension of Harare town clerk Tendai Mahachi, standing against the public fight for accountability and transparency.
Mahachi was suspended in January pending investigations into allegations of failing to discharge his duties and furnishing council with the salary schedule for Town House bosses. The three-month suspension came after media reports that Mahachi, together with 18 managers, took home about $500 000 monthly, an assertion later rubbished by the Local Government minister.
Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni had said the suspension will be for a period of three months and was done in terms of Section 13 of the Urban Councils Act.
But Chombo later told a press conference in Harare that Mahachi was bouncing back as he could not be used as a sacrificial lamb because of a schedule whose origins were unknown.
Mahachi, Chombo’s college buddy, was raking in thousands of dollars in salaries when the majority of council employees were going for months without pay.
Chombo has not only protected the rot, but has been fingered in the collapse of the key parastatal Zupco, which at one point was the favoured form of public transport by the commuting public.
Zupco is now a shell of its former self under Chombo’s watch.
His meddling has also extended to rural areas where he is accused of interfering with the installation of chiefs and headmen.
He has a knack of unquestioningly implementing directives from his bosses.
Ahead of the 2013 elections, in his reason or lack of it, he ordered municipalities to scrape rates, and now the limping municipalities are struggling to provide basic services such as water and in the process raising the spectre of an outbreak of primitive diseases such as typhoid.
He has failed in his mandate to deliver on national housing. Owning a house remains a pipedream for most Zimbabweans, who live in cramped squatter camps unfit for human habitation.
He not only failed to provide houses, but has abysmally failed to improve the country’s infrastructure both in rural and urban areas.
Roads are potholed and in some rural areas, villagers have to walk for kilometres to the nearest roads.
Several deals involving local authorities, in particular Harare, that include the stalled dualisation of Airport Road, prove that the responsible minister did not exercise due diligence.
Many still question why no action is being taken by Chombo on the lopsided and incomprehensible Augur deal — where Harare could lose 733,9 hectares of land.
Chombo has failed to stem corruption in local authorities that is taking place right under his nose.
He watched as the illegal construction of houses continued unabated and at the end, he had the temerity to call for the demolition of the so-called illegal structures.
It begs the question, where was he when the illegal houses were built?
Boreholes were only sunk in urban areas on the backdrop of a devastating cholera outbreak that claimed over 4 000 lives in 2008.