WARD 41 residents this week clashed over the involvement of the ward’s recalled councillor in the ongoing City of Harare pre-budget consultations with some arguing the former representative should not take a lead in the process.
While some residents questioned the involvement of recalled Ward 41 Councillor Mrs Kudzi Kadzombe others said she was entitled to participate in the process as a resident because she remains a resident of the ward despite being recalled from council.
The clash took place on a WhatsApp group created by the City of Harare to hold virtual budget meetings in wards.
It followed the contributions made by Mrs Kadzombe who posted information about City of Harare budgets to help residents discuss from an informed position while some residents referred to her as “councillor”.
Mrs Kadzombe had also asked council officials to create a second WhatsApp group for residents from other suburbs in the ward such as Tynwald after the first group was fully subscribed.
“Bear in mind that you were recalled but seem to be speaking authoritatively on behalf of council. That in itself is a misnomer and already brings the whole proceeding into question. Please take note,” one resident told Mrs Kadzombe.
But other residents felt she was entitled to participate and help residents with information given she was once a councillor and also remains a resident of Ward 41.
“Is the (recalled) councillor not a resident surely with experience they can speak?” queried a resident.
Responded another resident: “She is indeed a resident and she is better placed experience wise.”
The resident who reminded Mrs Kadzombe that she was recalled as a councillor then said she must participate in her individual capacity.
“Let her speak in an individual capacity as she was recalled. When she speaks authoritatively like she is doing on behalf of council then it’s questionable given the recall. If and when she is re-elected she can speak on behalf of council. Surely an employee suspended/dismissed by an organisation cannot continue to represent it,” he said.
Mrs Kadzombe then responded urging residents to avoid being petty and focus on the important matter hand.
“Simba please stop being retrogressive and petty this is not the place and time to be cheap politicking. This platform is for progressive budget issues. We have other groups (where) I allow you to say your peace but not on this one,” said Mrs Kadzombe.
Simba hit back saying: “It’s not politicking but the truth. The Constitution of Zimbabwe allows for freedom of speech. I say what I want.”
Participants in the meeting felt it was Simba who was actually trying to muzzle Mrs Kadzombe.
“The whole outburst is uncalled for. You are equally guilty of the same. She is a bona-fide resident and speaking from a point of legitimacy.
“Her contributions this far on this matter are beyond reproach and on point. The matter before us is of grave importance and requires unity of purpose and lots of focus. Recalls or no recalls, her contributions still matter and this is not the platform to chastise her,” argued one participant.
Residents felt there was no need for the clash as everyone must be accorded the right to participate as long as they were residents of Ward 41.
“I think it’s clear that Kudzi is here as a resident and should confine her utterances to that of (a) resident as there is no other authority she has other than that one. Let’s not be side tracked neighbours.”
Mrs Kadzombe confirmed to residents who were not aware of her recall that she was, indeed, no longer the councillor for Ward 41.
“You remain a valuable resource nevertheless in my view. We must separate politics from individuals and community. Your participation is commendable as you engage as a community member, councillor or not in my view,” said resident.
The former councillor said residents should focus on community development.
“We genuinely need to separate national politics of hate and focus on community development that which affects us directly,” she said.
This week, the Zimbabwe Combined Residents and Ratepayers Association (ZICORRA) urged the City of Harare to find other channels to communicate issues with residents, which do not include the suspended/recalled councillors.
Of late, residents have been left with no option other than to turn to suspended/recalled councillors for answers on service delivery issues including in the ongoing budget consultations.
ZICORRA Harare provincial chairperson Mr Lawrence Kuleya advised residents against dealing with suspended/recalled officials as some of the dealings or issues can be rendered null and void.