Movement for Democratic Change mayors told party president Morgan Tsvangirai today that they could not perform their duties satisfactorily because they were ambushed by the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.
They said Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo was interfering with their operations hindering them from delivering services to their towns and cities.
They said they could not pay council workers because they did not have any money after Chombo cancelled all debts in the run-up to the 31 July elections.
Revenues for Gweru had dwindled from US$2 million a month to US$500 000 a month when the council’s salary bill was US$600 000 a month.
Chitungwiza had a wage bill of US$1.7 million a month but was getting revenue of only US$1 million.
The council was also rocked by corruption by ZANU-PF supporters who were illegally parcelling out land.
The mayors also said they were running their councils blindly because they did not know the salaries of their management.
Tsvangirai told the mayors to be innovative because they were in charge of the towns and cities and the buck stopped with them.
Below is the full statement released by the party:
Harare, 17 January 2014
President Morgan Tsvangirai today met all mayors and council chairpersons elected on the party ticket to understand how they are operating in improving service deliver to the people.
The party President was shocked at the information he received from the mayors on how service delivery had been grievously undermined by political interference particularly from Zanu PF politicians, especially Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo.
It emerged in the meeting that revenues had dwindled in almost all the local authorities especially after Chombo ordered councils to cancel all debts in the run-up to the July 31 election.
After that move councils are struggling even to raise money for salaries, let alone to invest in delivery projects like water and sanitation, roads, refuse collection and housing, among other key deliverables.
In the city of Gweru, after Chombo’s populist decision, revenues dwindled from $2 million per month to $500 000 against a salary bill of about $600 000.
In Chitungwiza, which turned out to have the most problems, revenues dwindled to $1 million per month against a wage bill of $1,7 million, meaning there will be nothing for service delivery and other capital expenditure.
It emerged that Chitungwiza was a major victim of political interference after a large tracts of council land were parceled out to party barons, huge numbers of Zanu PF supporters were illegally recruited while some party functionaries are collecting rent for council properties.
As a result, almost all the councils are in arrears in the payment of salaries as councils begin to reel from the effect of Zanu PF’s populist decisions to cancel debts.
It also turned out that all mayors and chairpersons elected on an MDC ticket were not privy to the salaries of their town clerks and council management, which was being kept a secret.
Other problems that emerged ranged from acute housing backlogs in almost all the councils due to shortage of land, poor refuse collection, poor roads and water and sanitation as well as unplanned settlements mostly spearheaded by Zanu PF barons.
Councils are also reeling from over-staffing after unqualified employees were recruited on political lines ahead of the last election.
Furthermore, it emerged in the meeting that Zinara illegally usurped council responsibilities of collecting vehicle licensing thereby negatively affecting council revenue inflows.
President Tsvangirai told the mayors and council chairpersons that they were in charge of the cities and towns and the buck stops with them.
He urged them to be innovative and to prioritize service delivery to the residents. At the end of the day, they would be judged on the basis of their record.
The MDC President expressed shock that the mayors did not know the salaries of their management. He said it would be difficult for the mayors to ascertain whether they had achieved the desired ratio of 70:30 of the expenditure on service delivery to salaries if they did not know the salaries of their subordinates.
The meeting expressed concern on the delay in implementing the Constitutional requirement on provincial councils especially for the metropolitan provinces of Harare and Bulawayo.
The meeting noted that in a bid to escape implementing the Constitution, Zanu PF had appointed Ministers of Provincial Affairs, even in provinces they do not control.
The MDC President urged the mayors to regularly meet with the residents and ratepayers to update them on developments in their cities and towns.
Movement for Democratic Change