MDC Alliance in pickle over Harare mayor

THE opposition MDC Alliance has found itself in a spot of bother over what promises to be a contentious process in the selection of mayors and council chairpersons, with Harare proving to be a political banana skin.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

Opposition leader and presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa set up an 18-member committee to interview prospective candidates to lead the 23 urban and two rural councils won by his pre-election coalition.

The team led by former Mufakose MP, Paurina Mupariwa and included residents’ associations, local government experts and senior MDC Alliance members had a torrid time to pick who should lead the municipalities the party has majority in.

As usual, Harare and Bulawayo will headline debate on how the opposition performs in the next five years in the run up to the 2023 elections.

Party secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora confirmed that the committee had completed its work.

“We have set up a committee and invited prospective candidates, who want to be selected as mayors or council chairpersons to apply. For Harare, we interviewed five candidates, while Bulawayo we had 14 people applying as prospective mayors,” Mwonzora said.

“We now await the formal composition of the councils and the process of selecting the mayors or council chairpersons according to procedure. As a party, we have done our homework and have people with both capacity and integrity to run local authorities for the benefit of our people.”

While Mwonzora said he was not at liberty to discuss names of interviewed candidates, sources said businessperson Ian Makone will lead the cast of those vying to lead Harare.
Others interviewed include Enock Mupamaonde, People’s Democratic Party spokesperson Jacob Mafume, Herbert Gomba and one (Budiriro ward 33 councillor-elect) Kunashe.

Representing residents, Combined Harare Residents Association chairperson, Simbarashe Moyo said they participated in the process and were hopeful that councillors will elect the best from list the panel recommended.

“We made our recommendations as the panel and we are hopeful the party will do justice by allowing the best candidate to lead these council’s. We looked at experience, ability to turn-around cities and their respective towns as well as being able to engage the residents. We made our recommendations to the party for a final decision on all 23 urban councils and two rural local authorities,” Moyo said.

NewsDay Weekender understands that Makone has a BSc in Economics and a Masters in Research, while Mupamaonde did business studies and has an MBA and Mafume holds a law degree as well as a masters. Third-term councillor Gomba has a social science first degree and a masters in policy and governance.

“Initially, it seems the party was ready to give the job to Makone because they thought he would automatically be the best qualified. But now it seems all candidates are equally qualified, presenting the party with a ‘positive’ headache,” a source said. There have been muted protests from Bulawayo, some bordering on ethnic divisions, amid claims most of the elected councillors on the MDC Alliance ticket were “Shona speakers”.

But Mwonzora defended the work of the committee and the party’s decision to conduct interviews.

“We have a very professional process that is open and fair to all. Our aim is not to select people on the basis of their origin, but on competence,” he said.