PRESIDENT will today address predominantly MDC councillors in Bulawayo amid divisions in the opposition party over the Zimbabwean leader’s legitimacy.T Emmerson Mnangagwa

Ironically, MDC Members of Parliament have refused to recognise Mnangagwa and have on several occasions walked out on him in Parliament.

Mnangagwa is the guest of honour at today’s Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe’s Local Government Investment Conference and will be accompanied by several ministers all from Zanu PF.

MDC shadow deputy minister for local government, Clifford Hlatshwayo said Mnangagwa remained an illegitimate leader and his address to MDC councils will not change anything.

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“It is public knowledge that Mr Mnangagwa and Zanu PF rigged the people’s vote. We are consistent as a people and as MDC that Mr Mnangagwa has a disputed legitimacy and nothing will change that position. He remains illegitimate,” Hlatshwayo said.

“The challenges that local authorities are facing is due to Mnangagwa’s failure. The problems are beyond local authorities, it is the central government that has failed to manage the macro-economic fundamentals.”

He blamed Mnangagwa’s administration for interfering in operations of local authorities.

“Councils will come back with nothing. Zanu PF is blank in as far as providing the leadership is concerned. It is driven by will to power against will to transform. The problem in Zimbabwe is a leadership crisis,” said the MDC official.

Last week, the MDC national executive noted that Zanu PF interference in local government issues had rendered elected councillors ineffective.

“The executive noted the challenges faced by MDC-led councils and bemoaned the fact that most of these councils are MDC-led but are not MDC-controlled. Zanu PF has centralised most of the key operations of local authorities, such as procurement,” said the party in a statement.

“The party noted that Zanu PF has usurped key operations of councils in a manner that has curtailed the autonomy and the full independence of local authorities, in the process grossly interfering with service delivery. The party resolved to continue supporting the local authorities that it runs to ensure that they deliver affordable services to the people.”

However, officials, who spoke to NewsDay, said they would attend the conference, arguing local government issues must not be politicised.

“People must not politicise local authorities or bring political issues on service delivery. If you fight Mnangagwa, service delivery will suffer because his government will simply block us from getting borrowing powers, our budgets will not be approved and the people ultimately will suffer,” the official said.

MDC councillors have been co-operating well with the Mnangagwa’s administration and last week, the Zanu PF leader was welcomed at the Morton Jaffray Waterworks near Norton by Harare mayor, Herbert Gomba and party secretary for elections Jacob Mafume who is also chairperson of the council human resources committee.