Gweru Residents Fume After Police Disrupt Protest March

By Own Correspondent

Gweru, July 03, 2016 – GWERU residents were left fuming this past week after police in the Midlands city quashed a peaceful march which they had organised to register displeasure over the poor running of city by the Saviour Kasukuwere led Commission.

The residents were also demanding the immediate reinstatement of Gweru Mayor Hamutendi Kombayi and fellow councillors who were summarily suspended by Local Government Saviour Kasukuwere last year.

The residents were accusing the Commission of failure to be transparent and accountable to them since its inception.

As a result, residents mobilised themselves in preparation of the demo which the police blocked.

“Residents were shocked that a non-violent protest on service delivery granted by the same police was blocked without any reason,” said one resident Mtapa suburb resident, Antony Tembo, aged 71.

Tembo had come to march against council’s decision to sue him for defaulting in paying rates when baton wielding police pounced on the marchers.

The atmosphere was tense during the march as protesters tried to assert their rights to peaceful demonstrations.

Most local authorities in the country are struggling to offer quality service delivery to ratepayers as a result of financial constraints exacerbated by decades of economic meltdown.

However, tired of the dismal performance of the local authorities, citizens are beginning to self-organise to take the authorities to be accountable and transparent.

As a result of continued clashes between local authorities and rate payers, a local NGO, Election Resource Centre, has past few months initiated the Communities in Action campaign.

The countrywide process was borne out of the realisation that there was general lack of engagement between local leaders and their immediate communities.

Local leaders include village heads, chiefs and elected councillors.

Chapter 14, Section 264 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe states that the objectives of the dedication of governmental powers and responsibilities to provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities are to give powers of local governance to the people.

This is also meant to enhance their participation in the exercise of the powers of the state and in making decisions affecting them, to promote democratic, effective, transparent, accountable and coherent government in Zimbabwe as a whole.