‘Recalling of councillors crippled service delivery’

The recalling of councillors short-changed residents as elected officials left office before fulfilling duties they were assigned to do by the electorate, former Gweru Mayor, Josiah Makombe has said.

Makombe was recalled last year by MDC-T led by Douglas Mwonzora over allegations of corruption although the former mayor cites politics and power struggles in the opposition as reasons behind his recall.

Speaking at an election debate series on the March 26 by-elections organised by CITE on Friday, Makombe indicated residents suffered the most from recalls as the vacancies affected service delivery.

“People of Ward 2 in their wisdom voted for me so I could represent them for five years and unfortunately, a group of politicians decided to recall me without consulting the same people who braved the chilly weather of July 2018, who spent quite a number of hours wanting to vote. They were not consulted to say ‘we now want to recall your councillor’,” he said.

“Yes, the constitution has a provision to recall but I think people of Ward 2 were shortchanged because when I was elected into office, I had a lot of promises I made to them. Some I had delivered; some were yet to be delivered.”

Makombe noted that voters must be the ones given the power to recall their elected officials

“I still need to finish what I started. A year is quite a lot in terms of politics given that opportunity we are going to achieve more as a ward. Yes, there are challenges to do with services provision of water, roads maintenance, refuse removal and socio-economic issues that need to be solved within Ward 2,” he said.

“But also, there are areas where I have managed to stick to my promise, managed to deliver not only in the ward but Ward 2 residents were proud that I was doing well in terms of trying to uplift the city.”

Makombe expressed confidence in winning the seat, claiming residents knew he was competent, even under difficult circumstances.

“I want them to give me that victory again and I complete what I started. Above all, I think I am no longer a novice. I know what is supposed to be done. It’s not like I need a minute to learn how to represent, I don’t need a lecture to demand services from either town clerks, directors or even central government. I’ve been to the highest office of local governance at the local level and I have tried my best in office for the past three and half years. I’m sure I will not disappoint them,” he said.

The former mayor noted that since Ward 2 was big in terms of geography, residents in the area had different needs.

“We have low-density areas and some plot areas. These non-low-density areas are where residents need a clinic and school, Makombe said, highlighting he had approached partners to have a clinic built.

“We had a council resolution that we will use a clubhouse that was lying idle and that clinic is at 90 percent complete. When I go back to the office, I will make sure it’s finished. I also identified a piece of land for the school, what was left was for other administrative work such as plans. I hope to leave the school at brickwork level so those that come after me can finish the project.”

Makombe cited that low density areas such as Athlone, Riverside and Windsor Park among others needed mainly service provision of water, roads maintenance and refuse collection.

“I tried to do these under difficult circumstances but due to challenges faced as council, residents need to know challenges facing so that when you don’t deliver, they understand where hindrances are coming from,” he said.

“Having looked at challenges to do with road maintenance, as mayor I spearheaded that we procure our own road equipment. 80 percent of funds from devolution or from Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) goes towards hiring equipment by those who won the tender but if council can afford its own equipment whatever amount we get from ZINARA can go a long way. That equipment is now there, the grader, tipper, a JCB machine and a tractor is coming.” 

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