HARARE mayor Bernard Manyenyeni is facing war from two fronts as some councillors from his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) have joined forces with rivals from the MDC Renewal Team to call for his head.
The MDC Renewal Team believes it can easily gunner sufficient numbers in chambers to push for Manyenyeni’s ouster, less than two years after he was voted into office.
The plot has found support from an unlikely quarter.
Council insiders say some disgruntled MDC-T councillors are throwing their weight behind the move, hoping to extract favours from whoever would have succeeded him.
Manyenyeni is being accused of failing to revive the sunshine city, currently entangled in endless bickering with its residents.
The city is battling to provide basic services to its residents with water not reaching most of its suburbs.
Roads are also in a state of disrepair, riddled by potholes, which have since worsened ever since the onset of the rain season.
But beneath the shrill calls for improved service delivery is an intense battle for the control of the capital city between the three main parties namely ZANU-PF, the MDC-T and the MDC Renewal Team.
Harare council has been dominated by the MDC-T since 2000, a year after its formation.
Currently, there are only a handful of councillors belonging to the ruling ZANU-PF.
But the balance of power is now more of a 50-50 affair between the MDC-T and Sekai Holland’s MDC Renewal Team after a group of city fathers defected to the former in the aftermath of the party’s most recent split last April.
Should the MDC Renewal Team councillors succeed in their efforts, they may influence the replication of the strategy in other towns and cities in a bid to help their party gain leverage against the MDC-T.
The acrimony has since excited the few ZANU-PF councilors in council who cannot wait to destabilise the opposition’s 15-year domination of the capital.
ZANU-PF councillors are hoping that once Manyenyeni has been booted out they will then impress on Local Government Minister, Ignatius Chombo to appoint a caretaker council to run the city’s affairs until the next elections in 2018.
It will not be the first time for the city to be presided over by a commission.
Between 2000 and 2008, Harare went through two caretaker administrations under the Sekesai Makwavarara-led commission and later the Michael Mahachi commission.
Manyenyeni was elected mayor in September 2013 after garnering 38 votes against Beadle Gwasira of ZANU-PF who polled only seven votes.
He replaced Muchadeyi Masunda whose term of office ended with the July 2013 election.
Councillor Thomas Muzuva was elected deputy mayor after winning by a similar margin.
The MDC Renewal Team threw the gauntlet last week when it threatened to sue Manyenyeni and Chombo for ‘dereliction of duty through failure to address service delivery’ in Harare.
Apparently, Manyenyeni is also being accused of being too close to Chombo.
MDC Renewal Team organising secretary, Benison Ntini, in a recent statement, said Manyenyeni, should step down because he has failed to lead and control the city council.
“He should step down instead of giving the residents never ending excuses of how his hands are tied,” said Ntini.
MDC Renewal Team spokesman, Jacob Mafume, said there was nothing untoward with their calls, saying championing the service delivery cause was part of the programmes being pursued by his party.
“Our service delivery protests are designed to effect an improvement on that front for citizens. Right now we are on the brink of serious health disaster because of water which we will not be able to manage. We want to see that, among others, addressed,” Mafume said.
Manyenyeni this week scoffed at the calls for his head.
“I am not giving any value to that call. Council problems are not new. They have been there for a long time and we are doing our best to improve things,” he said, without ruling out the involvement of MDC-T councillors in the plot.
“I don’t know who they are but they could be there,” he said, adding that he will face the threatened MDC Renewal Team lawsuit when it comes.
This week, Obert Gutu, the MDC-T spokesman, came to Manyenyeni’s defence, saying the Harare mayor remains the legitimate and lawfully elected mayor of the capital.
Gutu said any attempts by the MDC Renewal to unseat him will not see the light of day.
“As far as we are concerned, Manyenyeni has executed his mayoral duties very well especially given that he is working against all odds. We will not allow a small, unfocused political organisation to undermine him like that,” he added.
The two parties are also currently involved in a messy tug of war for Members of Parliament.