By Nkosana Dlamini

Local residents’ groups coalescing as Residents Associations Coalition for Electoral Reforms (Racer) have demanded powers to influence recalls on unproductive councillors and to veto any expulsions inspired by political patronage.

At a news briefing in Harare Thursday to place their demands ahead of elections next year, Racer spokesperson Marvelous Kumalo lamented that a lot of recalls experienced in the past were not performance related but rather vindictive.

“Section129 (k) of the constitution requires an operationalisation policy framework.

“Residents must have the powers to influence a recall, in this case, political parties initiate the recall while citizens endorse the recall through a referendum.

HORIZONTAL

“The current framework weakens political accountability and renders citizens powerless after voting which has the potential to cause apathy in the next election,” said Kumalo, who is substantive Chitungwiza Residents Trust director.

Kumalo also said the continued secondment of semi-literate individuals to council chambers weighed negatively on service delivery while creating an unnecessary disequilibrium in which better schooled council directors turn into de facto bosses on elected representatives.

“We have instances in which a committee as important as the finance committee is sometimes chaired by someone without five O’ levels. What does he know? He is illiterate.

“As a councillor, you are as good as a board member of a cooperate institution.

HORIZONTAL

“How do we have illiterate councillors supervising directors with doctorates; how do you lead such person.

“How do you have illiterate councillors forming panels to hire chamber secretaries?”

Speaking at the same occasion, Combined Harare Residents Association programmes officer Reuben Akili said a lot of individuals are elected to councils based on their energies to mobilise for votes but are found wanting when it comes to exercising their oversight roles over appointed council technocrats.

“According to our research, because of the weaknesses within our councillors in terms of skills and other qualifications, councillors have been taken advantage of for a long time.

“We are trying to deal with that gap because they will continue being exploited by technocrats and end up appearing like they are the subordinates,” he said.

Positions taken by the residents associations follow their recent meeting in Gweru where they deliberated on matters affecting service delivery.

They flagged some of the country’s laws governing the operations of local authorities not in sync with the 2013 constitution.

The groups also resolved to land collective support towards political parties whose manifestos tally with their envisaged residents’ manifesto.

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