Will Commission of Inquiry Tackle Harare’s Governance Crisis?
11 May 2024
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By Irene Saungweme, MSU PMG student

In Proclamation 2 of 2024, President Mnangagwa has taken a step to establish a Commission of Inquiry to address the alarming issues surrounding local governance in the City of Harare.

Once renowned as the Sunshine City and praised for its cleanliness among African cities, Harare has sadly devolved into a vendor-dominated, heavily polluted urban center.

Despite its significance as a financial hub, with affluent suburbs and even housing the esteemed #1 Chancellor Ave, Harare finds itself under scrutiny once again. This echoes the events of 2006 when a similar Commission, led by former Deputy Mayor Sekesai Makwavarara, was appointed amidst controversy following the deposition of the then Mayor, Elias Mudzuri.

The Makwavarara Commission was marred by political interference and lacked credibility, reflecting the broader issues plaguing Harare’s governance.

The City has gained notoriety for its myriad problems: poor service delivery, rampant corruption, financial mismanagement, lack of accountability, and undue political influence. Recent audits have uncovered multiple unaudited accounts spanning nearly a decade, highlighting the extent of financial irregularities.

Cases of corruption have led to some high-ranking officials facing legal action, albeit with little consequence. Additionally, lax handling of labor disputes has resulted in the reinstatement of dismissed senior management, exemplified by the Nhekairo vs. City of Harare case.

The absence of a clear housing allocation strategy has allowed land barons to thrive, leading to the proliferation of informal settlements across Harare. The collapse of the health delivery system has left residents without access to basic services, exacerbating the spread of diseases like cholera and typhoid.

Furthermore, inadequate sewer reticulation has resulted in raw sewage contaminating neighborhoods, while clean water has become a scarce commodity.

The establishment of the Commission is poised to shake the foundations of corruption within Harare’s council, particularly among those involved in illicit land deals and improper land use changes.

Expectations are high for positive outcomes that align with the goals of National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).