Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, once the pride of its citizens, is beset by a host of challenges. Council authorities say it’s losing 60% of clean water through leakages in old and damaged pipes and illegal connections. The city is also five months behind in paying its workers.
The city, a shadow of its former self, is in a crisis that residents blame on ongoing battles for control between the opposition run council and ruling party executive.
A stream of raw sewage flows alongside homes and on the streets where children play. It’s hard to believe, but Harare was once called the sunshine city. And for good reason it was well run and clean.
Now it’s common to see potholes, burst sewage pipes and mountains of rubbish. Some blame the mess on decades long economic recession – and others on the political wrangles within the city council.
One ratepayer says, “…We are the losers in all of this because they don’t have time to address our problems. I don’t know why they don’t pick up the rubbish. It’s a health hazard and the tap water is erratic and pipes are so old. That’s dirty.”
Behind this elegant façade is a council best decade old power wrangles. It’s run by the main opposition the Movement for Democratic Change, but ruling Zanu PF government local government minister has ordered the mayor Bernard Manyenyeni and recently appointed town clerk, former banker James Mushore to be shut out.
Suspended Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni says, “There are other interests that want to control the city, and they are doing it through back door.”
This week Manyenyeni received his second suspension in two months, and within hours of being reinstated. He denies he failed to follow procedures in appointing the town clerk and in carrying out an audit of two private parking businesses.
“We need the city to be managed under the control of the elected councilors. And that doesn’t seem to be happening all the time. ..There are bigger decisions that are waiting for collective decisions by the mayor, by the town clerk. All those are parked,” Manyenyeni explained.
City residents representatives believe the tussle for control are as a result of the failure by government to align local government laws to the 2013 constitution and to yield greater power to local authorities.
Director Harare Resident’s Trust, Precious Shumba says, “We have a Ministry of Local Government that has not moved. This has resulted in a vacuum,allowing Local government to give their own interpretations to what the Constitution intended.”
The Mayor is headed to courts once again, as is the Town Clerk. The Local Government minister did not respond to the SABC’s request for an interview.