Harare town clerk Tendai Mahachi said Chombo vetoed the council’s plans to hire additional workers to improve the city’s service delivery, citing a depleted budget.
“Our letter in which we requested to employ 280 labourers to boost our workforce and speed up service delivery was turned down and the minister advised us to use the personnel that we currently have, which is far from being enough,” said Mahachi.
However, Chombo, widely accused of trying to displace MDC parties’ councils in retaliation for Zanu PF’s defeat at the polls and abusing power for self-enrichment, said he was cracking down on municipalities because they were failing to perform. “Our urban councils have failed to perform and as the responsible minister, I am demanding explanations,” he said.
Urban Councils Association president and Masvingo mayor Fermius Chakabuda said they had serious problems with Chombo’s unchecked powers.
“We feel the legislation that calls for the minister to oversee day-to-day running of our affairs is misplaced,” said Chakabuda.“We cannot ask the minister if we want to employ casuals. We have the capacity and funds to do so but the minister is always turning down such requests.”
Suspended Mutare mayor Brian James said Chombo was negatively interfering with their operations.
“I had requested to hire external auditors to look at our books and this did not go down well with him. It is an issue of transparency within the local authorities. I want to be transparent; the minister goes on to suspend me. How are we supposed to work then?” he asked.
Kadoma mayor Peter Matambo voiced grave concerns, saying service delivery was being derailed by bureaucracy within Chombo’s ministry.
“I do not want to rule out sabotage given our different political affiliations. Development has been delayed as a result of these clashes,” he said.
Kwekwe mayor Shadreck Tobaiwa said Chombo was abusing his excessive powers.
“This is unacceptable; he wants us to lose the next elections by creating a false impression that we are failing to deliver. I have informed our MP Settlement Chikwinya to intervene. It’s clear sabotage,” he said.
Bulawayo mayor Thaba Moyo said his council had nothing to fear and was ready to challenge any interference and interventions not in the interests of the city’s residents.
“As long as decisions show that they have people’s interests at heart, we do not have a problem, but if we see that the move is meant to derail progress then we stand up and fight,” said Moyo.
Gwanda mayor Lionel De Necker of the Welshman Ncube-led MDC complained about polarisation and meddling by the minister.
“Disruption is from all corners; from the minister and some employees who are loyal to Zanu PF. These people take orders from outside resulting in a direct confrontation and councils are heading for disaster if this trend is not abated,” he said.