Freeman Razemba Senior Reporter
THE majority of councillors in Harare lack essential skills and there is need for political parties to forward individuals with reasonable educational qualifications to ensure the smooth running of council, Mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni has said. Mayor Manyenyeni’s sentiments echo those of his predecessor Muchadeyi Masunda who also bemoaned the poor calibre of councillors in the MDC-T-dominated Harare City council as he highlighted the need for councillors competent in fields such as engineering, town planning and finance.
Successive MDC-T-dominated councils have been rapped for presiding over the chaos in Harare manifest in flagrant disregard of city by-laws, proliferation of illegal settlements, the kombi and pirate taxi menace as well as the vendor problem that made city pavements impassable. The sentiments come amidst reports that many of the councillors fielded by the MDC-T are of questionable education with some being of no fixed abode to the extent of seeking to bath at Town House.
Speaking at a media cocktail on Wednesday, Clr Manyenyeni said in 1927, the city had two lawyers in council but presently, there was only one lawyer from the more than 2 000 councillors countrywide. “In 1927 Harare had two lawyers in council, nearly 90 years later the entire country has only one lawyer out of the over 2 000 councillors.
“I would favour the inclusion on a non-partisan basis of individuals with minimum key skills that are critical to our tour of duty,” he said. “Specifically, no less than one third of the City Fathers must be able to present strong credentials in business, academia, engineering, law, finance and health, among others. When this is not achievable or achieved through the electoral process, modalities for accommodating specially skilled councillors must be found.”
Mayor Manyenyeni urged political parties to start searching for competent councillors now ahead of the 2018 elections. “For the success of future councils, my advice for post-2018 elections to political parties is that they should start scouting for councillors and mayors now,” he said. “2018 is around the corner, and it is time to look for new councillors. I would prefer non-political actors with expertise. You can’t expect me, for example, to supervise (the Harare City Health Director) Dr (Prosper) Chonzi when I am not a doctor and when I don’t know the difference between aspirin and ARVs.”
Meanwhile, Clr Manyenyeni said the city had a vision to achieve a world class city status by 2025, and that so far, they had made several achievements. Mayor Manyenyeni said some of the achievements included the relocation of vendors resulting in some of the pavements being cleared and making them passable.
“We are making progress with regards to illegal structures. We must ensure that excessive force is not applied. “You can also look at the rebranding, especially of fuel stations in Harare. That is a positive move by the private sector. It tallies very well with our vision of a world class city,” he said.
He said there was also an improvement of road signage in the central business district and roads leading in and out of the city. The mayor said they had also embraced clean energy in the form of solar street lighting and that their water delivery capacity was growing on a daily basis due to the ongoing rehabilitation of the Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Plant.