By Albert Nxumalo
The Nelson Chamisa led Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) plans to hold an inaugural Smart Councils Summit next week amid concern of gross interference by central government in service delivery.
The summit is set to run from March 11 to 12 in Harare and will draw participants from all councils, including councilors from the country’s rural wards.
“The MDC will next week host the much-awaited Smart Councils Summit at which the party’s deployees to rural and urban local authorities will congregate to exchange ideas and receive direction from party leadership on how they can improve service delivery to ratepayers,” MDC communications department said.
MDC controls most of the urban local authorities as it appeals to urban voters.
On the other hand, Zanu- PF enjoys support in rural areas and runs most of the country’s rural district councils.
Party leader, Nelson Chamisa, is expected to outline and unveil the Smart Cities Agenda as well as the Smart Rural Initiative.
The opposition maintains that it is unfair for local authorities to be blamed for failing to provide satisfactory service delivery to citizens citing undue interference from government.
During a Mayors’ Forum engagement last week Friday in Harare, party deputy national spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, said it emerged the MDC-led local authorities had done “wonders amid gross interference by central government, which intervenes even on issues that should ordinarily be under the purview of elected people’s representatives.”
According to MDC, the forum was part of the new culture of performance management in the MDC aimed at making sure councils perform effectively in delivering the services for which they were elected.
“The eight hour robust engagement at Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House exposed that central governing was grossly interfering in the administration of local government and was behind all the challenges facing the people” Tamborinyoka said.
He said the forum noted that elected policy-makers in councils are shut out of all procurement claiming that “procurement, even of a simple pen or even any other minute gadget, is now being done by a central procurement authority under the office of the President”.
Tamborinyoka added that councils do not have powers to recruit their own staff in furtherance of their own plans and programmes on which they would have consulted residents.
” Despite there being directors of Human Resources in the various councils, there have been myriad directives from the Minister of Local Government (July Moyo) that are meant to usurp the recruitment of from respective elected local authority”.
MDC alleges there are anomalies and favouritism in disbursement of devolution funds.
“Government has paid lip-service to the principle of devolution encapsulated in the national Constitution.
“Even though government has purported to be distributing devolution funds, there have been serious anomalies in the amounts disbursed to the respective local authorities. The unfair disbursements have seen larger local authorities run by the MDC receiving less funds while smaller councils dominated by Zanu PF councillors have been awarded huge amounts.
However, despite challenges faced which include delays on approving council budgets and power shortages, Tamborenyoka said “most MDC-run local authorities had made sterling progress to ensure that some modicum of normal service is delivered to the residents, albeit under very difficult circumstances”.