ZANU PF has begun rolling out its dirty grand plan to systematically reclaim control of local authorities led by the MDC-T, while making bogus promises ahead of the 2018 general elections as the embattled ruling party targets the main opposition’s traditional strongholds to win the crucial polls, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.
By Elias Mambo
Information at hand shows that the suspension of the Harare mayor, Bernard Manyenyeni, this week falls into Zanu PF’s ploy to seize control of MDC-T-led local authorities, particularly Harare and other major municipalities.
As first reported by the Independent last year, Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, who is also Local Government minister, will spearhead a crackdown on MDC-T-run municipalities and come up with impressive but fake poll promises as the party did in 2013.
Spurred into action by MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s show of power last week when he rallied his supporters in a massive demonstration in the capital against economic problems and misrule, Kasukuwere moved to declare war on the opposition by suspending Manyenyeni. This also followed a fallout over the recent appointment of former banker James Mushore as the city’s town clerk.
Manyenyeni joined thousands of MDC-T supporters last Thursday, demonstrating against President Robert Mugabe’s failed rule.
Zanu PF officials said Kasukuwere’s move was in line with a long thought-out plan by Zanu PF to control major cities and towns ahead of the polls. This will be followed by populist policies, including rolling out housing schemes and availing residential stands, to entice urban voters.
Kasukuwere, who is also Zanu PF’s political commissar, was appointed local government minister in July last year as part of Mugabe’s grand scheme to extend his rule.
Sources say the plan to weaken the opposition revolves around aligning Kasukuwere’s party duties with his government responsibilities.
In Zanu PF, Kasukuwere is responsible for organising the party structures and mobilising support. In government, he presides over a massive bureaucratic structure which has a national footprint. He is in charge of rural and urban councils countrywide and also oversees provincial and district administrators as well as traditional chiefs — Zanu PF’s electoral kingpins in its rural strongholds — and headmen, among others.
Provincial ministers — who are a new version of yesteryear governors and resident ministers who represent Mugabe in the regions — are working hand-in-hand with Kasukuwere ahead of the polls.
Sources said Zanu PF, battling an economic implosion, thinks that weakening the main opposition ahead of the polls could scuttle plans for an opposition grand coalition angling to unseat Mugabe.
As reported by the Independent last year, Kasukuwere was given the task of using government infrastructure to help the party, especially in urban areas, with the first step being to take over the councils and use them as a base to win back towns and cities in the next elections.
In a letter announcing Manyenyeni’s suspension, Kasukuwere said: “The grounds for your suspension are that you have, without legal basis, made an employment offer to a person for the position of town clerk without the necessary approval of the Local Government Board as required by the Urban Councils Act as read with Section 265(1)(b) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
“You went further and defied a lawfully given instruction by implementing a resolution that had been rescinded in terms of the Urban Councils Act section 314.”
Following Manyenyeni’s suspension, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai said the decision was ultra vires the constitution.
Kasukuwere is also targeting Bulawayo mayor Martin Moyo whom he accuses of corruption, among other allegations. Moyo is likely to be elbowed out as part of the operation.
In Bulawayo, Kasukuwere publicly clashed with Moyo over the provision of 20 000 residential stands, which the mayor said his council has no capacity to service.
“After firing Moyo, he will then push for the city council to service the stands and avail them to the people as part of Zanu PF’s 2018 elections strategy. Stands will also be available in Harare and this is meant to appease the electorate in a similar manner to (former local government minister, Ignatius) Chombo’s directive that local authorities should scrap off water bills ahead of the 2013 elections,” said an official.
Kasukuwere is working with provincial affairs ministers to push the Zanu PF agenda.
In Bulawayo, its Provincial Affairs minister Eunice Sandi-Moyo has been instrumental in identifying land to be serviced for residential stands.
Last year, Kasukuwere suspended Gweru mayor, Hamutendi Kombayi, his deputy Artwell Matyorauta and all the 18 Gweru councillors on allegations of gross misconduct and mismanagement of council funds and affairs. Kombayi denies the charges.
“By 2018 urban councils will be run by either provincial affairs ministers or interim committees, which will be set up and flooded by Zanu PF officials,” said the source. “Residential stands, flats and houses will also be promised so that Zanu PF entices voters in the urban areas.”
Upon his appointment last year, Kasukuwere said top on his list was the provision of accommodation by building secure apartment complexes modelled along those in South Africa and Britain.
However, speaking in innuendoes in an interview with the Independent on Thursday, Manyenyeni said Kasukuwere has a big role to play to please Zanu PF.
“Please accept the dilemma of being chosen by the party to make sure your opponents do not succeed but you are employed to make sure they succeed!! It is like selling coffins in the intensive care unit ward,” he said.
In Mutare, Zanu PF is also fighting the Mutare city council led by Tatenda Nhamarare.
Manicaland Provincial affairs minister Mandi Chimene in January implored Kasukuwere to dismiss the city council directors after government allegedly unearthed corruption at the local authority.
In the run-up to the 2013 elections, Zanu PF, which relies on intimidation, violence and rigging as well as military support and false promises, promised to unlock trillions of dollars through its indigenisation policy and to create two million jobs by 2018, but dismally failed to deliver.
- 900 hectares of land for the construction of 20 000 housing units for youths in Bulawayo;
- Government to construct new townships in Bulawayo and Harare;
- A new board for the Urban Development Corporation to spearhead the allocation and development of state land to reduce the 1,5 million housing backlog;
- Provision of efficient and reliable services at all local authorities;
- Eliminate corruption;
- Roll out a concessionary funding facility for women and youth projects;
- Job creation;
- Affordable healthcare and access to primary school education;
- Poverty datum line pegged salary for public service employees; and
- Pay US$2 000 gratuity for war vets..
- To create 2,2 million jobs by 2018;
- Unlock US$1,8 trillion;
- Transfer US$7,3 billion into hands of previously marginalised people through indigenisation;
- Eliminate corruption;
- Empowering communities by unlocking US$1,3 billion from idle assets;
- 50 000 low-income housing units will be built;
- 1 250 public houses and buildings will be rehabilitated;
- 2 500 shell factories, flea and vendor market stands will be created;
- 310 clinics;
- 300 schools will be built;
- Capacitate Sedco with US$300 million to fund innovative women’s and youths initiatives; and
- Unlock US$7 681 078 582 of idle assets in the custody of parastatals.