By Gilbert Munetsi
Chitungwiza and Manyame Rural Residents Association (CAMERA) has petitioned Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo and Parliament over priorities being set by the commission running the affairs of the town.
The organisation said the priorities were misplaced and authorities should “intervene for purposes of bringing sanity to the perennially problem-ridden urban settlement”. The petition comes after another one served on former Minister Saviour Kasukuwere by the Chitungwiza Residents Trust (Chitrest) on September 24, 2017.
Top on the CAMERA queries list is the logic by the commission to operate for months without the services of key personnel who include a substantive town clerk, works director, mayor, deputy mayor and councillors.
Former mayor Philip Mutoti and his entire team of 24 councillors were suspended in April last year for allegedly contravening Section 114 of the Urban Councils Act, and were charged for gross incompetence, misconduct and wilful violation of the law in the management of the council’s funds and affairs.
They were replaced by a three-member commission headed by Mr Madzudzo Pawadyira and assisted by District Administrator Mrs Zivanai Chisango and former councillor and businessman Joshua Mabhiza. However, of the suspended lot, only former Clr Mutoti has since been convicted, while the fate of the others lies in limbo as there has not been an official position proffered.
“Nine months after former Minister (Kasukuwere) served Chitungwiza with yet another commission, it appears the motive has never been to benefit the general populace of Chitungwiza,” wrote former legislator for St Mary’s Constituency and CAMERA executive director Marvelous Kumalo in the communique.
“Instead of prioritising the filling in of vacant service delivery-related posts such as that of a substantive town clerk and director of works, the Municipality — which has been operating through a caretaker commission made up of three (3) appointees since May 2017 — has chosen to rush to push for secondary appointments and replacements without attending to the other key vacant positions in the local authority.
“To make matters worse, the same local authority has been functioning without councillors, including a mayor or a deputy after the entire lot was suspended by the Ministry of Local Government in April 2017.
“We are also in the process of engaging you (the Ministry of Local Government) on why an appointed Commission has continued to superintend the affairs of Chitungwiza Municipality for more than eight (8) months, which is a long time.
“We continue to blame the current poor state of service delivery in Chitungwiza on the circumstances obtaining at the local authority where a caretaker Commission is now taking care of itself at the expense of the welfare of residents and ratepayers. We demand that the situation at Chitungwiza Municipality be brought to finality and returns to normalcy without any further delay.”
The residents’ body lamented lack of engagement, no will on the part of the local authority to convene regular public consultative and feedback meetings and also called on the Minister to consider putting in place a criteria that ensures councilors were of sound educational and professional qualifications to meet the demands of the job.
The sentiments echo those by Chitrest to the parent Ministry five months ago in which they requested “well-defined terms of reference from commissions that continue to frustrate residents by looting from depleted coffers”.
“Chitungwiza has had more than five commissions in the past for various matters, including land management and allocation, but most of these commissions, if not all, have failed to address the challenges bedevilling the town and its residents,” wrote Chirest.