Violence disrupts Harare public hearings on the Local Government Law Amendment Bill

By Pretty Chavango .

The Harare public hearing on the Local Government Law Amendment Bill which took place yesterday at Rainbow Towers turned nasty as disgruntled participants started hitting each other with chairs.

At least two people Denford Ngadziore and Taurai Kazado both MDC supporters were assaulted by suspected ZANU PF supporters after speaking against the provisions of the bill. The latter is said to be hospitalised after sustaining back injuries and internal injuries.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Rural and Urban Development started conducting public hearings in selected centres throughout the country on proposed amendments to the Local Government Bill.

The bill suffered a lot of adverse reports mainly for its lack of devolution of powers as well enabling central government to issue directives to local authorities to suspend mayors noting the recent case of Ben Manyenyeni.

Councillors also can be suspended with caretakers appointed to assume the role of running councils. A campaign was started by Honourable Jessie Majome labelled the “Hands off –Harare petition” aimed at stopping interference by the Ministry of Local Government in the affairs of Harare City Council in breach of Section 264(2) (a) of the Constitution.

Hon Majome has blamed Parliament for not preventing these attacks as the atmosphere during the hearings was pointing towards violence.

“For some strange reason the chair insisted on resuming the meeting in such a rowdy and intimidatory atmosphere. I suspect he was under orders to ensure ZANU PF pro bill views are recorded after the driving in Masvingo, Gweru, Bulawayo and elsewhere. I am writing a complaint to the Speaker about this very un-parliamentary charade. In my view Parliament should guarantee the safety of all who ate invited by it to hearings and liable for costs of treatment etc to victims . “wrote Majome on her Facebook page.

Majome further suggested that most of the people in the meeting were not from Harare and could have been bussed in to defend the Minister.

“The moment we MPs waddled into the already packed room I could tell the horde was not from Harare add the putrid and musty stench of wood fire smoke pervaded the hotel. As the only opposition MP in the team I was unhappy about the chairperson failing to earn his rowdy party mates from sloganeering, rowdiness and wearing pay insignia.” added Majome.

The bill was generally unpopular in most areas were hearings were conducted with complaints that it reversed the gains of the 2013 constitution.

A report by the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust (SAPST) dated 14 June reads “People in Karoi, Chinhoyi, Mutare, Masvingo have rejected the Local Government Laws Amendment Bill. They argued that the Bill sought to grant powers to the Minister which the Constitution took away. However, most participants in Mvurwi this morning supported the Bill and actually said that the Bill should give the Ministers “more powers to discipline councillors and mayors”.

Harare Residents Trust (HRT) director Precious Shumba castigated this bill saying it should never see the light of day urging the Parliamentary Legal Committee to prepare an Adverse Report on the Bill which he says comes as a deliberate strategy on the part of the Minister to bring a Bill that will be rejected by the citizens and by Parliament so that he is directed to bring a new one.

We wait to see whether this bill will face the same fate as the National Peace and Reconciliation bill which was withdraw after recording an adverse report.

(Picture Credit: Hon. J. Majome)

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