The jostling for positions in the ruling Zanu PF’s caused the disruption of scheduled Zvimba Rural District Council’s 2022 budget formulation meetings in Banket.
The annual public pre-budget consultative meetings have been turned into political battlefields as contesting party members dress each other down.
At the weekend, Zanu PF provincial coordinating committee member, Chrispen Saidi, popularly known as Kadhoza, led a walk out during Ward 22 budget consultations chaired by Banket Local Board chairperson, Councillor Never Hutepasi.
Saidi, who was in the company of visibly drunk youths, accused the local authority of allowing Hutepasi to ‘abuse’ ward coordinators to mobilise residents to attend the meeting, which he would use to campaign for a political party post.
“Why were informed of the meeting by councillor’s ward coordinators when in fact some of them are campaigning for him in the elections. Council should have informed us using other means,” one George Chitengu charged.
An unidentified resident accused council of deliberately dividing residents by organising two separate meetings for a particular ward, instead of holding a combined sitting.
“Why did you organise different meetings for the same ward instead of combining us? You are trying to cheat us with your budget proposals through the councillor who is not popular with the people,” he claimed.
Saidi then led a walk out with Chitengu ordering residents, mainly women, to leave the venue.
“Leave the councillor with his coordinators and do their budget meeting,” he shouted.
A party functionary identified as Brian Chaleka barricaded the entrance to the venue while Saidi invited protestors to his shop located about 500 metres from the venue for “further instructions.”
Saidi refused to entertain any questions from the media.
As the drama unfolded, Saidi’s team returned to the venue in the afternoon for the Ward 23 budget consultations meeting chaired by Councillor Richard Muganhiri.
But even that meeting was aborted after Tafadzwa Banda demanded an explanation from council why there was selective rehabilitation of roads which has seen some not being attended to despite their deplorable state.
Banket Local Board works technician, Trust Govere explained that the exercise was ongoing, and they had started with feeder roads and all other roads were going to be revamped.
Banda then blocked residents from signing an attendance register before taking away a register which had already been signed and stormed out of the venue.
Council officials failed to present the budget proposals as the event turned out to be a Zanu PF de-campaigning platform.
Elijah Marime deplored the party activists’ shenanigans and called on council to give residents the opportunity to go through the budget proposals, before calling for meetings to get their input.
Councillors Hutepasi and Muganhiri are both vying for posts in the upcoming district elections while some aspiring vocal residents were also contesting for posts in the seemingly divisive plebiscites.
Grace Muchenje, a resident of Kuwadzana township, lamented the stance that some politicians had chosen to hijack community meetings for personal political grandstanding.
“It is unfortunate that some failed politicians are misleading people and hampering progress in the town. Was it even necessary to complain over how you were invited to the meeting? Let us learn to separate political meetings from community ones,” Muchenje said.
A council official admitted that the timing of the meetings coincided with the tension filled Zanu PF district elections, which were now affecting council business.
The party is expected to hold district polls soon after the Zvimba leadership expressed readiness to conduct the votes during a recent inter-district meeting held in Banket.