Government directs ministry officials to attend urban councils meetings

LOCAL Government minister, July Moyo, has directed officials from his ministry to attend all urban local authorities’ committee and full council meetings supposedly to ensure compliance with the Constitution and government policy.

This comes amid allegations of corruption involving, among other things, illegal sale of stands by urban councils run by the opposition MDC that has resulted in the arrest of several councillors including Harare mayor Herbert Gomba.
In a letter dated July 30 to all urban councils’ mayors and chairpersons, Moyo said he had noted growing violation of the Constitution, the statute law and government policy and circulars. The Local Government minister added that councillors are not always given all options available to enable them to make proper decisions.
As a result, Moyo said it had become necessary for the central government to monitor meetings of councils more effectively “in the interest of transparency, accountability and good governance.”
“In view of Section 96 (10) of the Urban Councils Act, I hereby direct, in terms of Section 313 of the same Act that the mayors or chairpersons issue a standing invitation to the relevant provincial development coordinator, district development coordinator or their designated officer, to attend all committee and full council meetings with immediate effect.
“Thereafter the town clerk or secretary must ensure that the agenda for all meetings is dispatched to the provincial development coordinator and the district development coordinator to enable them to attend,” the letter reads.
Moyo, whose ruling party has a stormy relationship with the MDC Alliance which controls most of the country’s urban councils, claimed he had issued the directive in the national interest and to ensure that all tiers of government “operate legally and in harmony with each other.”
Since the formation of the MDC in 1999, the opposition party has alleged that service delivery has been deteriorating in urban areas in part due to political interference by the central government through successive Local Government ministers including Ignatius Chombo, Saviour Kasukuwere and recently Moyo.
Former Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni, Gomba’s predecessor, alleged in an interview with our sister paper, the Daily News, during his tenure that vested political interests from the ruling party made it impossible for him to implement the business strategy he believed would turn around service delivery in the capital city.
“I have bigger problems with the government than I have with my party.
“As far as my party is concerned, firstly there are times when they fail to realise the basic political truth that the council is captured by Zanu PF, people, processes and politics.
 “The partisan capture of many of the council’s projects, people and processes is not unique to Harare — it’s a national tragedy.
“Minister Chombo was very experienced and could handle things in that context. . . but he is badly captured by partisan priorities. He is more ruthless in dealing with the opposition party under him,” Manyenyeni said then.

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