Shake-up at Harare City Council

Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume


Harare mayor Jacob Mafume says the local authority has changed leaders of its committees to address perennial service delivery problems amid power struggles in the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) led council.

Mafume became the third CCC councillor to be elected mayor since the August 2023 elections last month following the move by the party’s self-imposed secretary general Sengezo Tshabangu to recall Ian Makone and Lovejoy Chitengu.

On Friday, he chaired an explosive full council meeting after some CCC councillors tried to oust him.

CCC’s ward 43 councillor Blessing Duma attempted to block the meeting with support from a few of his party colleagues.

Duma was said to be unhappy about the move to remove him from council’s influential audit committee.

Mafume said he had called for the special full council meeting to address service delivery issues and to reconstitute some committees after Tshabangu recalled a number of councillors.

“We had a special full council meeting at Town House,” he told The Standard.

“We discussed issues around service delivery and refuse collection. We changed some committees and reconstituted committees in light of the recalls.

“Of course, we had a councillor who wanted to block the special full council meeting because he was afraid of being removed from his committee.

“We need to streamline and re-constitute the committees.”

The mayor said the water and health committees tabled reports on the current water and cholera situation in the capital.

Duma described the special council meeting as illegal.

“This is politics that is happening at Harare City Council,” he said.

“The mayor Jacob Mafume wanted to reconstitute committees and you can only reconstitute committees if you have agreed in chambers or just after a general election.”

Harare Residents Ratepayers Trust director Precious Shumba said Duma’s conduct was unbecoming.

“Councillor Blessing Duma is a former employee of the City of Harare in the traffic enforcement,” Shumba said.

“He allegedly committed serious offences, went to a hearing and was discharged from council for his alleged acts of misconduct.

“He is the current chairperson of the audit committee, an important committee that is supposed to be leading in establishing good accountability systems in council.”

Combined Harare Residents Association spokesperson Reuben Akili said there was need for stability at Town House.

“At this moment we don’t require disruptions at Town House,” Akili said.

“In as much as these people have their own political fights they work against service delivery.

“What we want is service delivery, it has been a worrying trend to see these fights.”

Ncube’s taxes push bread prices up

The price of a standard loaf of bread is now pegged at $1.20, a 20% increase from last month as new taxes introduced by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube in the 2024 budget begin to bite.

Ncube has already been forced to revise some of the measures in his $58,2 trillion budget that saw the introduction of a raft of new taxes.

A survey by The Standard at some major supermarkets in Harare showed that bread now costs between $10 000 and $11 000.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Denford Mutashu attributed the increases to movements in the exchange rate.

“The increase is at the supply side that has captured the movement of the exchange rate both on the official and unofficial markets,” Mutashu said.

At tuckshops in Harare’s Arcadia suburb bread is being sold for US$1.20 while some traders in high density suburbs are charging US$1.10 for a loaf of bread.

Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) president Tafadzwa Musarara said the price of wheat has not been increased.

“We have not increased the price of wheat,” Musarara said. “You will have to talk to the National Bakers’ Association of Zimbabwe (NBAZ) to understand why the price of bread has gone up.”

NBAZ president Dennis Zinyama said the prices increases were linked to new tax measures.

“Previously, when bread was zero-rated as a taxable supply, bread manufacturers could claim, from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, input tax charged on production and distribution costs,” Zinyama said.

“Bread manufacturers were, therefore, not factoring these costs into the pricing of bread.

“In the new Finance Act, bread has been changed to an exempt supply status, implying that input tax is no longer claimable.

“Consequently, manufacturers are compelled to incorporate the tax portion into the cost of production and distribution.”

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