JUSTICE minister Emmerson Mnangagwa was involved in a heated exchange with Zanu PF legislator Joseph Chinotimba in the National Assembly on Wednesday over the poor state of the country’s roads, particularly in poor communities.
Chinotimba had raised a question for Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo on why there were no potholes in Harare, “especially in areas where the whites and bourgeoisie” lived.
Since Chombo was not in the House, Chinotimba referred the question to Mnangagwa, who is the leader of the House.
“If you look at areas around Harare, if ever there is a pothole that has developed, it is quickly repaired and disappears, but if we look at western areas where we have the common people; areas like Glen Norah, Highfield and Buhera, the roads are full of potholes. You cannot travel safely in your car (sic),” Chinotimba said.
“So, is it the policy of councils that they only repair roads in areas where we have the bourgeoisie and the corrupt people who have enough money to repair them, but when we look at areas where common people are living, the roads are not repaired? We have a lot of potholes which disturbs traffic movement in those areas.”
In his response, Mnangagwa described Chinotimba as “the fiery Buhera legislator”.
“Verily, verily I say, each and every one of us in this august House has problems.
“Even if you are wealthy, you have your own problems which are according to your wealth.
“The poor also have problems related to them according to the acquisition of their wealth,” Mnangagwa said.
“However, I find that the honourable representative of Buhera has stood in to represent the poor people of this country, but what we forgot to think of is who is responsible for repairing these roads.
“In the area where he says there are the affluent, thieves and corrupt people of this country, the roads in those areas are repaired by the people who are responsible for repairing the roads.
“Whereas the poor people stay where roads are not being repaired, who is responsible for repairing these roads?” Mnangagwa said.
He said the Harare City Council was responsible for the maintenance of roads “but in this august House, we all have our own problems.
“However, the problem he has just mentioned is that the roads are supposed to be repaired by the local city authorities, especially when you look at areas like Buhera; it is the Buhera Rural District Council that is supposed to repair those roads.”
Chinotimba responded by saying he had referred the question to Mnangagwa expecting him to say he was unable to answer his question.
“That is why, initially, I said my question would have been directed to the Local Government, Public Works and National Housing minister because he is responsible for running the councils,” Chinotimba said.
“Because he is not here, I then directed my question to the leader of the House whom I thought would have responded by saying: I am not able to answer the question you have asked, therefore, I will defer it until the Local Government, Public Works and National Housing minister comes.”
Chinotimba then asked why it was that potholes were quickly repaired in leafy suburbs where the bourgeoisie lived and where people attacked each other with bombs.
Mnangagwa said Chinotimba was aware that he was not able to answer his question and it could only have been answered by Chombo.
“What surprises me is that, despite the fact that he has no faith in me, he then redirected that question to me and as a result, I had no option.
“I answered in the manner I thought it would have been answered,” Mnangagwa said.
“I simply told him that the authority responsible for maintenance of the roads is the Harare City Council and therefore, if he knew I was not able to answer his question, why did he re-direct the question to me?”