HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsComment: Only direct action will jolt authorities

Comment: Only direct action will jolt authorities


CONSTITUTIONAL law expert Lovemore Madhuku has urged Harare residents to organise wildcat demonstrations to force town clerk Tendai Mahachi and his top management team to leave office over poor service delivery.

NewsDay comment

Speaking at a public discussion forum organised by the Combined Harare Residents’ Association on Wednesday, Madhuku said the residents were constitutionally empowered to demonstrate against poor service delivery.

“For us to have service delivered, let’s be political and demand it. They are eggs used in Europe. Councillors are allowed to throw eggs at officials,” Madhuku said.

“Take those eggs and it’s not a crime to throw eggs at officials. Just throw eggs at them, journalists will take pictures and that will change a lot, you can even throw bread, it’s soft and they can’t say it’s assault. I will defend you on that one.”

Madhuku’s call — not to arms, but for drastic action — is very much understandable and in order under the worsening circumstances. A big shake-up is imperative.

To add insult to injury, it is now a whole year since the Salarygate scandal broke out, but nothing drastic has been done. The culprits are still secure in their posts and earning their obscene salaries.

Besides direct confrontation, residents should exercise the legal option. The gross dereliction of duty is certainly actionable at law. They should go to court to demand that council management disclose their salaries and allowances to determine if these are in accordance with the 70%:30% ratio as stipulated. These are public officers and are required to disclose their packages.

Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo should be the first port of call. The situation has deteriorated to that disgusting extent under his watch.
In fact, he has been an impediment to remedial action all because he is intensely hostile to most urban councils because they have been dominated by the main opposition MDC-T since 2000.

Instead of working with the MDC-T councillors as the urban residents’ representatives, he has chosen to behave as if they are not there at all, perpetuating and exacerbating the situation in the process.

He has invariably protected the so-called special interest councillors to the exclusion of duly elected people’s representatives. This is a mockery of democracy. It spells disaster for good governance.

Some of these townships now look like dumpsites and wastelands. Community spirit has been extinguished. The only people benefiting from this chaos are extortion gangs operating under the banner of Zanu PF. People need to reclaim their neighbourhoods from such criminals.

We wonder why President Robert Mugabe, who has eyes and ears on the ground, is not acting with the requisite urgency to address this situation which has been prevailing for years. Is he being misinformed and misled — or he simply does not care?

In the meanwhile, the long-suffering residents should exercise their democratic option of direct action. The authorities need a rude awakening. At this rate, when the initiative is taken away from them, they will have no one to blame, but themselves.

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