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Purge the rot in councils

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Yesterday we carried a story under the headline Harare suspends 27 where we reported that Harare City Council suspended 27 employees for illegally and clandestinely issuing licences to car dealers.

NewsDay Editorial

The car dealers, armed with the illegal documents, went on to set up car sales businesses that sprouted throughout the city like mushrooms.

These corrupt employees epitomise the rotten spirit with which local authorities are run in this country.

What we have in this country is a chain of corruptly run councils where bribery, extortion, embezzlement, nepotism and patronage among other things, rule the roost at the expense of their core business-service delivery.

This is not helped by a partisan Local Government minister who thinks his mandate is not to ensure that councils are run properly for the benefit of residents, but the persecution of political opponents in councils.

The situation is not helped by poorly informed residents who lack political awareness to deal with corrupt officials, both elected and appointed. Uninformed citizens do not know which councillors to elect and they take corruption as a matter of course. That is why citizens aid corruption through bribing unethical officials or by “simply letting things happen”.

Because of residents’ ignorance, corrupt officials take advantage since there is low accountability.

In our case, this is made worse by the fact that those who enjoy political protection are immune to prosecution.

Consequently, we have some kind of free for all type of governance in local councils with the minister playing Godfather.

The results have been disastrous as service delivery in almost all councils is at standstill with no one giving a hoot about it except the hapless residents.

Councils have lost lots of revenue because of these corrupt officials who are like some kind of predators in these institutions. Revenue that could have been used to enhance service delivery and remuneration for council employees is pocketed by a few gluttonous individuals.

Council resources are diverted for personal use by such unscrupulous individuals, negatively impacting on service delivery. Such councils will never attract investment and this does not augur well for development and good service delivery.

It is high time residents acted to correct the situation. Civil society should educate citizens about how councils should be properly run.

The Local Government minister must just resign for he has presided over too much corruption in councils. The law must not be selectively applied against corrupt council officials and councillors.

Residents should ensure that only people with integrity are elected to serve them as councillors.

The rot in councils must be stopped forthwith as it is literally eating into residents’ prospects of survival.

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