What sort of Council do you want: CZI and ZNCC must sit in Council meetings, says Rejoice Ngwenya

Seasoned analyst Rejoice Ngwenya says the dream of restoring the sunshine status will only be realized if business representatives, residents, and the academia are given seats in Harare City Council.

Harare, arguably the biggest local authority by population in Zimbabwe, has failed to provide meaningful services to residents.

The failures have been attributed to the lack of capacity among the councillors. Most councillors are elected based on political party popularity, or their ability to buy votes.

Currently, the Electoral Act does not prescribe educational requirements for people who want to contest for council or for Parliament.

This has seen some people with no education getting into Parliament to represent people as MPs and in councils as councillors.

However, speaking recently, at a discussion organized by Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (Zinef) titled Harare 2023: Whither Sunshine City, Rejoice Ngwenya said if the sunshine city status is to be restored, various stakeholders must be given seats in the council.

‘’As we move into 2023, my biggest challenge is what sort of councillor, what sort of mayor what sort of laws are going to be put in place to rediscover this sunshine city in Harare?

And I am afraid for the time being, if we are using the same election process, I am not sure if we are going to have representatives of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, Harare Residence Trust, and university lecturers sitting in council, because these are the people that we need,” he said.

Modern councils are not political entities

Ngwenya added ‘’For me, the modern council is not a political entity. It’s a business entity which is why 10 years ago when we were talking about Easy Park (city parking) was going to be a model of how to unpack the business side of Harare from the political side of Harare.

‘’It was going to be City Parking, Harare farms, Mabvazuva lodges and so forth, but then the politics, because council make money out of these things, they come back to you and say we want control.

So at the end of the day, the city cannot deliver because it is being run like a political entity from maybe Zanu PF or Harvest House or wherever it is to me that is very unfortunate.

‘’I think Harare City is a business entity, let’s leave politicians to work with planners. When it’s time for business let Harare run as a business then we can rediscover our sunshine city and minimise this role of the central government.

This devolution thing is an illusion, it is illusional. We want real devolution so that big business, SMEs and everybody can sit in the chamber and say we want to make Harare great again,’’ he said. 

Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume failed to attend the meeting

Harare Mayor Councillor Jacob Mafume had been billed to attend the meeting but failed due to other commitments.

Zimbabwe is going for elections between July and August this year (2023). It will prove to be a tall order for some councillors due to the fact they have presided over councils that failed to deliver since 2018 when they came to power.

Councillors in most opposition-run councils have blamed the central government for interfering in their efforts to provide meaningful services to residents.-

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