To date, Chombo has fired or suspended mayors from Bindura, Chinhoyi, Mutare and Rusape and recently in Gwanda. It is noteworthy that all these are MDC-T or MDC run councils. Their “crimes” all have to do with resisting being cajoled to make decisions that favour the interests of the minister or that of his party –– Zanu PF.
We find Chombo’s conduct as a continuation of a grand strategy to frustrate the full expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe. The minister has continued to take advantage of the weakness of the Urban Councils Act to micro-manage local authorities. His conduct is totally in conflict with the theory and practice of decentralisation. It is this very same behaviour that has reduced the capacity of local authorities to provide quality services, and be accountable to the residents. Moreover, this is one of the many reasons why there are widespread calls for the devolution of power.
We, therefore, call for the immediate reinstatement of all councillors, chairpersons and mayors who have been suspended by Chombo. We also call for an independent commission of inquiry, reporting to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government, to be set up to investigate the minister’s conduct with regards to all these cases. We believe that this will be a step towards asserting the independence of state institutions and re-asserting the will of the people of Zimbabwe as expressed in the March 2008 elections.
We also call for the urgent reform of the Urban Councils and Rural District Councils Act which currently gives the minister excessive powers to make, supplant, interpret and enforce these laws or his directives without checks and balances.
The Act’s administration must be subjected to parliamentary procedures on key matters rather than being left to a minister who accounts to opaque institutions.
The inclusive government should bring to an end the ongoing onslaught by Chombo.