My Two Cents
In fact, Harare in its current form does not need someone with urban planning experience. I believe that the right candidate, will need to be a professional manager who can fix the financial mess that council is in. Harare City accounts in shambles is a headline that is all too familiar — we have become accustomed to it annually.
Often-times Zimbabweans fall into the trap of always doing the expected (what is in the book) and sticking to a “this-is-what-we-have-always done” approach to business.
The disadvantage is that the majority of time, organisations have been caught on the wrong side of the economic cycles simply because what is expected or the model that is being followed is outdated.
This mentality shows in all the aspects and operations of a business from the production line right up to the recruitment line.
The Harare City Council has been in the news lately over its choice of candidate for the Town Clerk’s post.
The Council is reported to have picked former NMB Holdings chief executive James Mushore but certain sections have raised concern over what they deem lack of experience in urban planning and management.
However, a visit to the Harare City website shows that there are six divisions in the Town Clerks office, Audit, Business Development Unit, Corporate Communications, Information and Communications Technology, Monitoring and Evaluation and lastly the Supply Chain. Simply put, this means that Town Clerks are top-tier executives who supervise the daily operations of a business (in this case the city) and are ultimately responsible for its performance.
Other countries rightly refer to such positions as chief administrative officer. One of the duties also includes assessing ongoing operational needs through the various department heads.
The job requirements on the advert said: The city requires a competent game changer to occupy the chief executive post managing annual budgets in excess of $300 million.
First degree in relevant field of study and no less than 10 years senior management experience. Previous experience in local government will be an asset but is not a requirement.
Does Mr Mushore fit these requirements? A regulator contributor to comments on The Herald website Wilson Magaya said the city of Harare needs a person who will overtime, build a leadership team that can move the city into a world class city by 2030.
“Let’s move away from the traditional definition of Town Clerk and define what we need at our cities from our most senior paid employee. The world over this position is now considered as the chief executive of the modern polis.”
Another comment (from Robzam) says that experience of local government while essential can produce the same old way of doing business. What is required is a good corporate CEO surrounded by innovate and practical directors. The arguments raised by the contributors are indeed valid.
Judging by the state of the City of Harare at the moment, there is need for fresh blood to take the reins.
There is also need to move away from linking the position to politics as this almost always leads to mis-governance.
There should be a change in mind set where we must move away from thinking that the city can only be steered forward by someone with experience in local government and urban planning.
Any attempt to recycle the minds at the City Council or those who have experiences elsewhere in Zimbabwe using the same model of approach will spell doom to the hopes and expectations of the citizens of Harare.
In fact, Harare in its current form does not need someone with urban planning experience. I believe that the right candidate, will need to be a professional manager who can fix the financial mess that council is in.
Harare City accounts in shambles is a headline that is all too familiar — we have become accustomed to it annually.
What the City needs is someone who will introduce stricter controls in terms of governance.
Someone from the private sector who has sound management experience and has been subjected to tighter control mechanisms before would be a breadth of fresh air in bringing order to council business.
Above all a candidate who will be able to look for funding for the City in order to make it achieve world class status by the earliest date possible.
It would also be important that the new Town Clerk be someone who has a connection with business bearing in mind that it is business which drives the growth of cities.
The incumbent will need to understand how business works and to deal with city hindrances to their operations so that Harare can become a good ecosystem for business.
In Mr Mushore’s favour he has run a bank before and has a bird’s eye-view of the economy and good appreciation of how local authorities should function or deliver. He also has good international exposure of what a world class city should look like.
He has worked in the service industry for a long time and he knows what it takes to ensure that the council will meet its mandate to the satisfaction of the residents.
Having been involved with a bank he appreciates the way Government functions and is well acquainted with the operational issues involved.
Being an experienced financier he has the necessary skills and network to access the funding required to fund council projects at realistic costs.
He has been involved in infrastructure development financing and should therefore be the most well placed person to spearhead successful developmental projects for the council.
The City Council has been failing to attract developmental funding from local and international financial institutions because of various unacceptable reasons.
When they have had some funding availed to them, for instance, the Chinese loans, then there is almost always a scandal attached to it.
Council requires $2,5 billion to roll out a programme to address just the city’s water problems.
That’s a huge amount which requires a financial professional who has experience in raising money and most of all who is an acceptable face internationally.
Corruption, compromised corporate governance, disorder remain the characteristics of the City.
The whole City Council executive team needs a complete overhaul and there is need to avoid the creation of another type of administration which is similar to the previous.
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