MDC Statement-Meddling with council affairs is a subversion of democracy

The newly elected urban and rural MDC councillors have become victims of undue political interference in carrying out their day-to-day duties from Zanu PF officials in various parts of the country

The MDC is disturbed that this is against the spirit of national engagement, which culminated in the political settlement signed by the three leaders of the three major political parties in Harare on 15 September 2008.

In Harare, the MP for Zvimba North Ignatius Chombo continues to override council decisions yet he is not a substantive minister. As far as the MDC is concerned, Cabinet ministers have not yet been announced and Chombo has no right to be interfering with council operations. In any case, it is a subversion of democracy to manage councils through ministerial directives rather than council resolutions.

In some urban councils such as Chinhoyi, Bindura and Kadoma, the town clerks are being uncooperative, as they are denying councillors to hold council meetings which are important considering how previous administrations had run down the councils’ infrastructure and failed to deliver basic services to the people.

These disruptions have affected the operations of both urban and rural councils, as they need to periodically meet and steer growth and development in local authorities.

The MDC controls more local authorities than Zanu PF and Chombo is making sure that the day-to-day operations of the MDC councils are disrupted. Zanu PF is using a dubious quota system to bring in “special” councillors, especially Zanu PF losing candidates, which in most cases have enabled them to reverse the MDC’s majority in most rural council chambers.

Elsewehere, subtle measures continue to be used in order to frustrate the MDC councillors and distract them from their work. In Mhondoro Mubaira in Mashonaland West province, the government has delayed the swearing-n ceremony, further hampering service delivery in the district.

In the three Mashonaland provinces, councillors are being denied the right to hold ward consultative meetings and meet with the people who voted for them. Zanu PF continues to abuse chiefs and traditional leaders by forcing them to impose Zanu PF structures as ward development committees to frustrate the elected MDC councillors in their duties.

Despite the serious humanitarian crisis in the country, Zanu PF is also interfering with food distribution programs in the rural areas.

In Mashonaland provinces, the GMB is currently working with losing Zanu PF councillors in the distribution of food thereby ensuring that only Zanu PF members have access to food handouts.

The MDC views these acts by Zanu PF officials as a violation of people’s rights to choose representatives of their choice. It is a violation of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the leaders of all the major political parties on 21 July 2008. It is a violation of the political settlement signed in public and underwritten by both SADC and the AU.

Zimbabweans deserve a better deal. They want elected people to be allowed to discharge their duties without undue interference. Any meddling with democracy is unwelcome in the new Zimbabwe that is now upon us.

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