TO some of us monitoring events in urban councils, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s threats to take over the local authorities on the basis of the opposition’s failure confirms long-held suspicions that Zanu PF is fomenting the chaos unfolding in towns and cities that have for long spurned his party.
Mnangagwa told the meeting of his party’s politburo on Wednesday that the MDC Alliance-dominated urban councils had failed and Zanu PF should take over, come 2023.
These are not empty threats by the way. Mnangagwa claims the opposition-led councils have failed to provide services to the people. He is not wrong.
But in his typical “blame everyone else except himself” speech, he conveniently did not mention that it is his party which controls central government which has failed spectacularly on every front.
Local authorities do not survive in isolation and if the fish rots from the head, failures are a direct result of his governing Zanu PF party’s misrule. Local Government and Public Works minister July Moyo is interfering in the running of local authorities and spends more time meddling than he spends superintending his portfolio like all other ministers before him such as long-serving Ignatius Chombo who effectively paralysed local authorities by cancelling all debts owed by residents to councils in 2013 in an act of political gamesmanship.
Mnangagwa appointed provincial development co-ordinators, whose role is so far not clear, but act as the “super-mayors” who run the affairs of Harare and all provincial capitals across the country. That is despite the fact that there are Provincial Affairs and Devolution ministers whose role seems to be to curtail any movement in the right direction by the opposition-run local authorities. This is despite that the country’s governance charter of 2013 created the position of provincial chairperson to come from the political party with the majority seats in these areas.
It is now clear that Mnangagwa is the architect of chaos in urban local authorities as part of a grand plan to decimate the MDC Alliance.
And indeed, he will achieve his goal.
The MDC Alliance must know that Mnangagwa cares less about what the international community thinks as long as his desire to retain control and wield power subsists. It makes no sense for him to negotiate, when he holds ultimate power than when he is vulnerable.
He has already achieved his stated aim in part by masterminding the spectacular split of the opposition party and making Douglas Mwonzora his preferred opposition leader, even though events show that Mwonzora may not be safe after all.
The next target will be to dismantle the MDC Alliance’s zones of autonomy and end the political career of its leader Nelson Chamisa, the young upstart who dared challenge him for the presidency to the point of almost winning. Chamisa continues the insult by refusing to concede defeat or join the big tent of patronage called Polad and referring to the strongman as “illegitimate.”
So, yes Mnangagwa is itching to destroy the MDC Alliance and bury it before 2023 and given his history, he is on course to achieve that. And he will use State machinery and all the advantages of a strongman in African politics.
Chamisa, it appears, does not know how to respond to the challenge posed by Mnangagwa and has been unable to defend himself and his party.
Here is an opposition leader who got over two million votes, and is the darling of the people but watches helplessly as Mnangagwa leads him like a sheep to the slaughter.
If he has a plan, we are not seeing it. The world, it appears, is too busy fighting the coronavirus to worry about some poor political juvenile crying for his stolen “jiggies.” If he does not wise up, the MDC Alliance is living on borrowed time. Citizens can only hope that once Mnangagwa forcibly retakes control of urban councils, he will deliver on his promises.