Archive | August, 2015

Politicians’ educational qualifications, will not solve service delivery problems! Mr. Harare Mayor

31 Aug

Source: Politicians’ educational qualifications, will not solve service delivery problems! Mr. Harare Mayor

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Politicians’ educational qualifications, will not solve service delivery problems! Mr. Harare Mayor

31 Aug

Friday, 28 August 2015, the Herald ran a story quoting Harare Mayor Councilor Ben Manyenyeni of the MDC T. The Mayor is quoted as having bemoaned the low levels of “functional literacy” exhibited by the Harare City elected councilors required for them to be able to run the affairs of the City. The story at one level smacks of a desperate Herald reporter trying to push ZANU PF propaganda alleging that MDC councilors are incompetent. At another level the story displays a level of unnecessary arrogance from the Mayor which in this instance should be imputed to the MDC T party. At a more sorry level the story exhibits a clear lack of understanding by the Mayor of his mandate as a city father and what the role of the councilors he is leading should be in the running of the City of Harare.

The Harare Mayor will not be the first one to lament the low levels of education for politicians in Zimbabwe’s body politic. The debate has been with us for ages and somehow one would imagine by now it would have died and been buried. In the Herald article, the Mayor is quoted as having said the Harare City Councilors lack “reasonable educational qualifications”. I am not going to bother looking at the Local Government Act or its regulations with regards to who qualifies to be a councilor and what level of education they should hold. The point is that if the person managed to run in the election and was freely elected by the constituents in his or her ward then the candidate is fit enough to sit and deliberate Council matters. There is no doubt that education is very important in the grasping of issues but it does not mean that the councilors will not be able to convey their constituents’ needs at council meetings. Thus, the Mayor is misinformed if he thinks that the councilors have to have cutting edge educational qualifications for them to sit in the council.

On a related matter, one is persuaded to ask the Mayor what complexities are involved in the issues deliberated at the Harare City Council. The body he leads must obviously deal with matters concerned with managing and running the affairs of the city – sewage and refuse collection; provision of safe water; road maintenance and transport management; business development in the City; housing provision and many others. It is very clear to all and sundry that the Harare City Council has failed to deliver in almost all the areas in Harare due to corruption fanned allegedly by Council officials, ZANU PF interference, and the lack of appreciation of issues at a tactical level from the MDC T as a party. What functional education in engineering, finance and town planning does the Mayor want to talk about here?

The councilors are political representatives of their constituents who voted them into power. They attend council meetings and present the needs of their constituents – how these needs are then translated into policy documents should not really be their core business. The secretariat of the Harare City Council should be able to present these matters to the Councilors who should be able to discuss the proposed policies as per their representations and even take them back to their constituents and parties before passing them into actionable policies. Why then does the Council have a secretariat and the Town Clerk? It is ridiculous to say the least. The Mayor is out of order. The failure of the Harare City Council cannot be reduced to a lack of functional education of the councilors as he wants to put it.

The Mayor is quoted as having lamented the dearth in the number of lawyers sitting in most councils in Zimbabwe. So what, if there are no lawyers in Harare City Council or any other Council for that matter. Is this Mayor insinuating that the work of the council is failing due to the lack of lawyers in the Council? If that is so, then it is most ridiculous. For starters, lawyers operate and specialize on different matters, thus it is not a given that the presence of a lawyer in the Council will solve all the challenges bedeviling the City Council. If anything, the Harare City Council instead of bogging itself down with what councilor is legally trained should invest in a strong legal department sound in human resources, finance, contracts etc. It cannot be the business of the City Council and certainly not constituents to try and find what candidate is or is not a lawyer. That argument is devoid of any merit and the Mayor must disabuse himself of such thinking.

The Mayor seems to be “uneducated” on the processes of the division of labor and responsibilities between the public servants/employees of the City Council otherwise known as bureaucrats in everyday parlance and the political servants such as him and his counterpart Councilors. It is the duty of the bureaucrats to deliver on the plans of the politicians and not otherwise. That is why the City Council employees all those people that it accuses of gobbling its revenue. The politician’s job is clear-cut, he represents the interests of his constituents and seeks to monitor their delivery. The Mayor is quoted as saying he is incapable of monitoring/supervising the Harare City Health Director because he is not a doctor and because he doesn’t know the difference between aspirin and ARVs. What hogwash and crap!

This Mayor is the one who needs reeducation on how public and corporate bodies function. He does not need to run around monitoring each and every department and expert. This is why corporate and public bodies invest in bureaucrats who engage in Monitoring and Evaluation work. These bureaucrats should be able to report to him how the different departments are performing in the different portfolios.

One of the greatest challenges that the Mayor seems to be suffering from in this instance is very clearly a lack of direction on ideology and strategic thinking. Clearly if this matter, was as serious as he puts it, he should have discussed it at their party not at some luncheon or dinner event. Anyway, so much for the MDC T and its hopes to run government in Zimbabwe at this rate.

Harare City Council is not failing to deliver because of the lack of education of the elected councilors. There are deep seated problems that need to be addressed at a national level, in the law governing local councils and generally how ZANU PF seems to run away with the baton stick into the woods without no clear plan of who will stop them. The diagnosis given by the Mayor is dangerously wrong and plays into the hands of ZANU PF unnecessarily. The story in the Herald is a clear testimony. The nonsense on the reportage that MDC Councilors are bathing at the Council offices is a non-issue. Most areas in Harare do not have reliable supplies of water so maybe that is why the particulars sought to shower there. Who knows if the councilors had taken a walk, cycled or ran to the meeting in a bid to keep fit and now were looking for a quick shower to freshen up? Those facilities must be available for the councilors at the Town House. Where did they get this Mayor? Honestly!

My advice, to the Mayor. No foot in mouth politicking here, Harare needs more seriousness not this stage managed nonsense feeding into ZANU PF propaganda about the inefficiency of the MDC Councilors. And what does anyone’s level of education have to do with the provision of clean water, refuse collection, sewage disposal, provision of medical services, proper and efficient running of schools etc. The Mayor seems to confuse his influence and his tenure. I’m sure the electorate will decide in the next election what councilors they want to represent them EDUCATED or NOT! The Harare City Council must deliver as required by constituents as represented by their so called “Functionally Illiterate Council representatives”.

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