nt by the grassroots.
Presently, residents are only being brought in to participate in areas of local governance through voting for their respective councillors and mayors. Annual city budgets are drawn up by manipulative municipal departments, only eager to increase revenue that the respective local authority can generate through levying residents. The residents’ interests are only treated as minor through legislative provisions that requires the budget to be advertised and objections lodged.
This presents an opportunity for residents’ groupings like the Combined Harare Residents’ Association (CHRA), the Bulawayo Residents’ Association (BURA), the Mutare Residents Association (MURA) and all other progressive residents’ bodies to set a clear agenda of dealing with such retrogressive provisions of the Act that gives too many powers to ministers like Ignatius Chombo.
The agenda for collective resistance must be defined from the experiences of residents in their daily lives. Residents understand first-hand what it means to go for days without water, they appreciate the meaning of an inflated bill and they can tell you without fear what they went through during the satanic Operation Murambatsvina, beginning 18 May 2005.
At a public meeting held in Mbare on October 19 and 02 November 2006, the residents categorically denounced Zanu PF for being a bully in their lives. They fail to access the market stalls because the Zanu PF structures think it is wrong for an opposition activist to make money.
The myths of a Zanu PF backlash were demystified. Residents felt encouraged to discuss how best to deal with a vindictive ruling party. For this to occur, an enabling environment has been created. Mbare residents have for long been subjected to intense intimidation, harassment, illegal detentions and arrests. This has been at the instigation of the Chipangano clique in Zanu PF, collaborating with some illiterate policemen.
More residents are beginning to open their mouths to castigate the government for its abuse of the local governance system. They want to know why their bills are inconsistent, why Minister Chombo does not want to hold elections in Harare, and also why the commissions in the capital is not fired yet it has failed to deliver on water and service delivery.
Residents of Dzivarasekwa are a clear example of an awakening CHRA membership that will no longer let Zanu PF thugs, masquerading as policemen to bully them and steal their wares. We received a sad report that six armed ‘policemen’ pounced on vendors and fled with their wares after firing gunshots in the air, a clear testimony of the lawlessness that abound in Zimbabwe.
CHRA’s thrust has been to have its values and vision clearly understood by the individual member to the Association’s leadership. Every person who drives the CHRA agenda must understand the reasons for engaging in any of our actions from street action, petitions to legal battles.
We do not want a situation where people engaged in an action do not know why they have signed a petition, why they are on the streets or why CHRA takes matters to the court.
By Precious Shumba, Information Officer
RESIDENTS have a lot of work to do before they can become the key factor in how Central Government treats local governance. The absence of key provisions in the Urban Councils' Act (Chapter 29:15) that deals directly with residents' participation must be viewed as opportunities for greater involveme