REPORTS that the court has ordered the reinstatement of expelled top opposition MDC-T politician and Bulawayo deputy mayor Gift Banda to his position after Local Government, Public Works and National Housing minister Saviour Kasukuwere wrongfully fired him should serve as warning not to abuse the power of incumbency.
It is our contention that since Kasukuwere was appointed to his ministerial portfolio, he simply took over from where his predecessor – Ignatius Chombo – had left, riding roughshod over MDC-T-dominated municipalities, throwing spanners into their works at his whim and caprice to the detriment of service delivery across the country.
The local authorities have for most of their terms forced to defend themselves or parry trumped-up charges raised by Zanu PF ministers not happy with losing the election to the opposition candidates.
As a result of the run-ins with Kasukuwere, nothing has actually happened on the ground, and with the elections beckoning some of them will definitely lose seats as they have not been able to deliver on their promises.
It was a heartening moment when the High Court in Bulawayo reinstated Banda, who was fired early this year on misconduct allegations. The court ruled that the decision – made by an “independent” tribunal set up by Kasukuwere – was misdirected because it was not based on “sound legal basis”.
This is important in that it brings the concept of checks and balances at a time when the Local Government ministry, miffed by the MDC-T’s dominance of urban councils, has always interfered with municipal operations, always making it difficult for the local authorities to do their work.
In worst-case scenarios, whole councils have been replaced by commissions staffed by Zanu PF apparatchiks to run the municipalities’ affairs after unilaterally side-sweeping elected officials. It is our hope that this ruling will be upheld, and that Kasukuwere will draw lessons from it and act in a befitting manner.
The era of “little gods” in local government has to come to an end. That portfolio is certainly not a commissariat department of the ruling party. There must be separation of powers, and of course different mandates.
Indeed, reason must prevail. If the municipalities fail to deliver, it must be left to residents to chuck them out in elections, rather than allow individuals that have never taken kindly to Zanu PF’s failure to clinch urban seats — be it in Parliament or local government — that were swept away and retained by the MDC-T since 2000.
When decisions are made on the basis of erroneous findings by the so-called tribunals, then disaster is bound to strike. We hope, however that this will not end up just a pyrrhic victory as Kasukuwere and his acolytes seek to frustrate the court’s decision.
Zanu PF ministers must learn to co-exist with opposition and work together for the betterment of the country. This unnecessary rivalry is retrogressive. But we have no problem with Zanu PF and the opposition reigniting their rivalry during the election period, but not at any time to the impairment of service delivery.
Besides, they should ask themselves – who voted for the opposition after all, and are they not Zimbabweans? Do they not want a better Zimbabwe like everybody else? The court’s decision should humble the big-bellied Kasukuwere, and we call on him to respect the rule of law. It must be real victory.