By Nomalanga Moyo
Kwekwe City Mayor Matenda Madzoke, who was in the news last month after he was seen cycling around the city on official business, has explained why he has refused to accept a mayoral vehicle.
Madzoke is entitled to a luxury vehicle as part of his package as mayor. However, after he assumed office last year, the mayor asked that the previous council’s resolution to purchase a $68,000 luxury vehicle be reversed.
The council had already paid $38,000 for the vehicle, a Toyota four-wheel drive, but the mayor asked that the money be used to purchase a refuse truck instead.
The mayor argued then that he could not be seen driving a brand new expensive vehicle on potholed city roads littered with uncollected refuse.
Speaking to SW Radio Africa, the mayor said he reached that decision after going through the council’s budget, the state of service delivery, and the mandate he received from Kwekwe residents.
“When I first saw the budget for the mayoral vehicle I said to myself ‘I have just assumed office and my mandate from the people is that I should deliver services first and foremost,” Madzoke, who is also a clergyman, said on Tuesday.
The mayor says driving a luxury vehicle after only two months in office, and before delivering any service, would have been to defy the people’s wishes.
“I am happy that following negotiations the car dealer we had paid the deposit to has reimbursed us the $38,000 and last month council gave the go-ahead for the purchase of a refuse truck.”
In a previous interview, Mbizo Ward 3 councillor Weston Masiye said Kwekwe has one garbage truck, bought in 1986, which was no longer fit for purpose.
Masiye said although the municipality has two tractors which it uses for the same purpose, these were not convenient as they have no tipping trailers.
Another challenge that the city faces is revenue collection and this continues to affect and limit the local authority’s capacity to meet the needs of residents, Mayor Madzoke said.
“We are doing our best despite the challenges. Last month at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair we emerged second best for using our own resources to cover potholes around the city – without aid from the State or donors.”
The mayor also said the city had one of the most effective water treatment regimes in the country, and as a result was supplying its residents with clean and safe water.
The city has also reduced its debt to the country’s water authority to $880,000.
In January, the state-owned Zimbabwe National Water Authority disconnected the city over a $1.2 million debt, leaving 100,000 residents without water for 3days.
The crisis arose after ZANU PF Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo ordered all local authorities to write off ratepayers’ debts, just days before last year’s crucial polls.
Kwekwe lost $10 million as a result of the electioneering gimmick and like all other local authorities, has been struggling to pay its creditors.
The city also supplies water to the neighbouring Redcliffe town which has however failed to pay for the service, amassing a debt of almost $13 million.
“Had Redcliffe been paying us even $5,000 a month, we wouldn’t be in such a difficult financial position where we even struggle to pay our workers,” the Kwekwe mayor added.
Madzoke is the second known senior public official to decline a vehicle, and joins MDC ex-Education Minister David Coltart who turned down a Mercedes in 2009.
Madzoke has also refused to move into the mayoral mansion, preferring to remain at his family home.
Zimbabweans will agree that Madzoke is a different breed of public official, an office which members of his ZANU PF party have used to loot, plunder and acquire riches at the expense of the suffering masses. SW Radio Africa