Zwnews Chief Correspondent

The Harare Residents Trust (HRT) has lambasted the government following the appointment of commissions to run local authorities, saying the move was unjustified, ill-timed and costly to the local government who will pay the commissioners.

In a statement just received, HRT says the move came disregarding the fact the electorate voted to put into office their preferred councillors.

HRT says the move is in direct conflict with the country’s Constitution, and calls for the move to be corrected sooner than later.

The Trust says according to the Electoral Act (Chapter 2: 13) states that the appointment of commissions to run local authorities is not a sustainable way to address service delivery issues.

Towards the end of July, this year, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing July Moyo announced the appointment of commissions to run rural and urban councils.

“In terms of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29.15). Section 130 (a) and (b) states that once the results have been confirmed at Ward centre, the results are deemed to be correct and true.

“Therefore Moyo should not have abused his powers by appointing Commissions to run the public affairs of Local Authorities as if there are no elected Councillors to run the affairs of their respective local authorities,” says HRT.

The similar abuse of authority was done ahead of 31 July 2013 elections where the then minister of the portfolio Ignatius Chombo recruited senior council officials who went on to make bad decisions by the time the newly elected councils assumed office.

HRT says Moyo relied on Section 80, 1 (a) which empowers him to appoint caretaker councils to run council business until elected councillors are in place.

According to the law, elected councillors must assume office 9 days after the elections in which they have been elected.

HRT says now that the elected councillors are now available following the just ended polls the move should be reversed.

Meanwhile, the commissioners and their chairpersons are paid using ratepayers’ money, and their chairpersons are paid, and have benefits similar to those of elected mayors.

The local authorities in Zimbabwe, especially urban ones have been hotbeds, predominantly run by councillors composed of mainly members from opposition parties. And ministers have been accused of trying to arm-twist these local governments for political expediency.

Such acts by ministers has seen Harare City Council running the just ended term, without a Town Clerk, after former minister Savour Kasukuwere interfered with the process pertaining the selection of Town Clerk, and rejected James Mushore whom the local authority had chosen.