THE Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) rejects the idea creeping into the ruling party’s agenda of having to replace a failed commission with another one to run the affairs of Harare at the expense of a democratically-elected council.
The residents of Harar
e are clear on what they want. For the record, the residents were loud and categorical at the Girls’ High School on April 25 before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government that conducted a public hearing into the state of service delivery by the city of Harare.
Commissions with unlimited terms — no matter where they come from — are unwelcome in Harare and any other local authority. What we demand are elections for a people’s council now.
CHRA is not hoodwinked by the vilification of the Makwavarara Commission by some people in government who are leaking information to the media as a pre-emptive strategy.
We are aware that the plot is to get residents to endorse the removal of Makwavarara and celebrate a new commission. Service delivery and legitimacy are non-existent in the current strategy.
While we welcome the inevitable exit of Makwavarara and her fellow commissioners, CHRA demands that Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo and Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa urgently organise the holding of fresh mayoral and council elections for Harare in line with Section 80 (4) of the Urban Councils’ Act (Chapter 29: 15).
The prolonged administration of Harare by commissions that clearly lack the mandate of residents will further prejudice residents of their democratic right to choose leaders of their choice.
The principle of re-appointing commissions beyond the mandatory nine months has been ruled illegal by the High Court and the Supreme Court (Makarau’s judgement in Case Number HC12862/00 of Christopher Magwenzi Zvobgo versus the city of Harare.
Supreme Court judge, Justice Wilson Sandura in the case of Lottie Stevenson versus the Minister of Local Government and others in case SC 38/02, and High Court judge, Justice Hungwe’s judgement in case Number HH 210/2001 of CHRA and another versus the Registrar-General, have made similar judgements.
What we want is not changing faces at the helm of the city, but more significantly, a lasting solution to local government structural problems — locally and nationally — starting with democratic elections.