In July 2018, Blessing Tandi was elected to Ward 14 Mutare Municipality, for MDC-Alliance, with 3394 votes.

Personal Details

No information could be found on his age, place of birth, or family.

School / Education

No information could be found on his Junior or High School, or any tertiary education.

Service / Career

2018 – elected to Ward 14 Mutare Municipality with 3394 votes, beating Wellington Jonah Moyo of Zanu-PF with 1435 votes, Nhamo Adamu of ZIPP with 99 votes, Elijah Taremeredzwa Matongo of APA with 81 votes and Joyful Tarenda of PRC with 20 votes. [1]
September 2018 - Elected Mayor.

Events

At a September 2018 meeting, following the elections of Blessing Tandi as Mayor and Kudakwashe Chisango as Deputy Mayor, Mutare district administrator Wilson Boore said councillors should focus on council business only, and political party issues ended with the 30 July election. Town clerk Joshua Maligwa said Mutare had the potential to become one of the best cities in Africa. [2]

A meeting to celebrate World Radio Day commemorations was held in Mutare in February 2019, organised by the Mutare based Kumakomo Community Radio Station (KCRS) (see Kumakomo Trust) initiative, under the theme, “Dialogue, Tolerance and Peace.” Mayor Councillor Blessing Tandi, spoke, Radio to the people is necessary. However, the media should be impartial and put the interests of the community first. As media you should not abuse your powers as well but be apolitical, which is why community radios are important as they are not owned by government or private entities.” Radio serves as a more convenient information sharing platform citing that it was more popular and easily accessible than television because of its wide reach.
The licensing of community radio stations in Zimbabwe is provided for in the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA), under a three-tier broadcasting system comprising, public, commercial and community broadcasting. Community radio stations are however still to be licensed and legally recognised in Zimbabwe since the enactment of the BSA in 2001. Currently, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has only licensed national and regional commercial and public radio stations. Successive ministers during the Robert Mugabe era refused to entertain discussions on licensing of community radio stations and maintained a repressive approach to media freedoms, but the new dispensation government has opened up to dialogue after the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Senator Monica Mutsvangwa last year revealed Government’s intentions to amend the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and Broadcasting Services Act to accommodate the licensing of community radio stations among many other media reforms. In February 2019, Cabinet repealed AIPPA to align laws to the Constitution. The repeal of AIPPA will give rise to three legal instruments - the Access to Information Bill, the Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill and the Protection of Personal Information/Data Protection Bill.
KCRS coordinator Trevor Mtisi said since they acquired their deed of trust in 2006 they have been pushing for licensing but sadly can only operate through social media platforms, production of CDs with educative programmes and community outreach programmes. According to the independent media advocacy watchdog, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe, community radio stations are a necessity and the best medium that can promote culture and ethnic languages of marginalised communities. Zimunya’s Ward 32 councillor Herbert Gonyora encouraged communities to support community radio initiatives citing how they helped his ward to mainstream developmental issues and constructively debate on them. He also urged government to strongly consider licensing of community radio stations. [3]

At a community engagement meeting in September 2019, Mayor Blessing Tandi told residents Mutare’s monthly water treatment bill had shot up from less than $200 000 in December last year to $1, 5 million in September, due to inflation. He said the proposed supplementary budget which will see tariffs going up by 400% was “painful but necessary” as it would cushion the council against hyperinflation, and the budget had been sent to Local Government Minister July Moyo for approval.
Council used to rely on industry for its revenue but due to the economic meltdown most companies have closed shop. Residents said the council should not over rely on rate payers for revenue but should instead embark on other income generating projects such as revamping and running its beerhalls in the high density suburbs like Sakubva and Dangamvura instead of leasing them to individuals. Tandi said to reduce the burden on ratepayers, the local authority would soon venture into income generating projects such as tourism to expand its revenue collection base. He said Dangamvura residents will have access to water by end of December next year. Mutare recently secured a US$400 000 loan from African Development Bank to improve the provision of water to residents. [4]

In March 2020, Mutare began a blitz on illegal vending to decongest market places as part of efforts to minimize human contact in the fight against the coronavirus. Mayor Blessing Tandi said it was given the authority through Statutory Instrument 77 of 2020, and urged citizens to be compliant. Flea markets at Motto-Motto, Chidzero, New Bar, Sakubva Flea Market and Meikles Park were closed down.
President Mnangagwa said food markets will remain open and movement will only be allowed with respect to the procurement of food, medicines or other necessities, but all non-essential services will be expected to completely cease operations. In addition to food markets, industries producing food, water and sanitary products would also be permitted to remain open. Only the state-owned Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) and government workers’ buses, will remain operational.
Labour and Economic Development Research Institute (LEDRIZ) economist Dr Prosper Chitambara says “The informal sector is characterized by serious decent work deficits. Decent work is productive work where the workers’ rights are protected, their jobs and their incomes are protected and their social standards maintained, but these do not apply in the informal sector. People will therefore starve if they go for 21 days without work as they rely on generating daily income for survival,” said Dr Chitambara. [5]

In 2010, a tender to upgrade the city's system was allegedly awarded to a company with no experience in major water infrastructure development. A US$330 000 deposit was paid to Shitazburg Enterprises which was awarded a US$660 000 tender to replace old and smaller pipes with larger ones in the Dangamvura water project. All this followed a 2009, Ministry of Finance advance of a US$3 million loan to Mutare City Council to finance water and sewer systems in high density areas. Part of the loan was earmarked to upgrade the Dangamvura high density area water infrastructure. After receiving the loan, the city fathers declared that the water problems would be solved within 12 months but eight years on, the company has failed to replace the pipes, neither has it refunded the US$330 000 paid as deposit.
The new mayor, Blessing Tandi, has maintained that Shitazburg Enterprises was corruptly awarded the lucrative tender. He said a councillor and two employees were implicated in corruptly awarding Shitazburg the tender. “The councillor [implicated in corruption] was reported to the Ministry [of Local Government] and was dismissed and two [council] officers were also charged and dismissed by council,” Tandi said.
In an interview, Councillor Exavia Upare, who chaired Mutare City Council’s procurement committee in 2010, was allegedly paid US$20 000 by Shitazburg Enterprises represented by its director Anderson Mwashita, to influence the tender in favour of his company. Upare denied the allegations, insisting that as the chairman of the city council procurement committee he did not have a final say on which company could be awarded a tender. But he admitted receiving US$20 000 from Shitazburg, which he claimed had nothing to do with the city council business. Upare would not reveal the nature of business he had done with Mwashita for which he was paid the US$20 000. In 2011, Upare was arrested and brought before Mutare Magistrate Court facing bribery charges arising from the tender issue. He was later dismissed as city councillor by the then Zimbabwe’s Local Government Minister, Ignatius Chombo. However, despite claiming it's innocence, Mutare magistrate court found Shitazburg was also found guilty of fraud, in the tender deal. The company was fined US$500 plus restitution of US$300 000 to Mutare City Council but has since appealed against the lower court’s ruling at the High Court of Zimbabwe. The High Court has not yet sat to hear the case after initially throwing out the appeal for failing to submit his heads of arguments in time.
Edson Dube, programmes director, the United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust, alleged that some councillors and council officials got kick backs to award the tender to a company which had no capacity to provide the water pipes. Mayor Tandi revealed that the city was expecting a loan from the Ministry of Finance and African Development Bank, which after signing the tender processes for the project commences and expected completion date for the project is June 2020.” [6]

Speaking at a United Mutare Residents Ratepayers Trust (UMRRT) meeting in May 2020, Mutare Mayor Blessing Tandi claimed that council’s resolutions to buy Mayor and Town Clerk Joshua Maligwa each a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado would improve the City’s status. He was also questioned on his attendance at numerous workshops at the expense of ratepayers. “The issue of vehicles will give status to the city, and workshops empower council with ideas.” A resident, John Zimunya, remarked, “The city’s status is not judged by the type of vehicles driven by the mayor and managers, but by the level of service delivery”. “On vehicles, our Mayor was very clear that it has nothing to do with service delivery, but their status,” remarked UMRRT programme director Edson Dube. [7]

Further Reading

[8]

  1. [Election Notice, Electoral Act, Chap 2:13, Local Authority Elections 30 July 2018: Results of Poll], The Herald & Chronicle, Published: 30 August 2018
  2. New councillors warned against taking politics into chambers, Newsday, Published: 8 September 2018, Retrieved: 27 May 2020
  3. Community radio station initiatives key for localised development, Eastern Times Zimbabwe, Published: 25 February 2019, Retrieved: 27 May 2020
  4. Mutare water treatment bill shoots to $1, 2 million per month, New Zimbabwe, Published: 24 September 2019, Retrieved: 27 May 2020
  5. City of Mutare moves in on undesignated sites vendors, flea markets to curb COVID-19, Eastern Times Zimbabwe, Published: 28 March 202, Retrieved: 27 May 2020
  6. Shady water tender leaves Mutare suburbs dry, The Zimbabwean, Published: 18 April 2019, Retrieved: 27 May 2020
  7. Pampering executives improves city status: Mayor, Newsday, Published: 27 May 2020, Retrieved: 28 May 2020
  8. 2018 Harmonised Elections Results, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Published: 6 August 2018, Retrieved: 6 May 2020