THE Borrowdale Ratepayers and Residents Association (BRRA) has cautioned the City of Harare (CoH) not to get comfortable over residents’ interventions as they are merely trying to help the local authority and not to entirely taking over the service delivery functions of the municipality.
Peter Tanyanyiwa Suburban Reporter
In a statement, the BRRA said the efforts of residents in addressing some of the shortcomings at the City of Harare were part of attempts aimed towards getting council back on its feet.
“Residents interventions are a mere ‘jump start’ that should be succeeded by a continuous implementation, from the authority, of activities in service delivery, development and enforcement. The norm is residents look up to their local authority and not the other way round. In times of crisis, yes, residents may rise to the occasion to dissipate anomalies but it can only be a once off intervention and should not be expected to be perennial. That would be an unsustainable venture altogether,” said the BRRA.
The residents’ body urged the City of Harare to always take note of areas where residents would have chipped in and make sure that they do not have to come back to the same problem.
“Mechanisms of sustainability should be installed within council. Residents participation should be considered as a privilege and not a right. Our greatest fear is frugality where council’s resources intended for critical areas are redirected to non-essential allocations such as luxuries for top officials when they feel the gap has been covered by residents. When residents feel or get the slightest indication of this being the case, they lose confidence of the entire system and such a situation is detrimental to development as well as future residents-council engagements.
“The monitoring and evaluation system within the City of Harare should be active and vibrant in all projects earmarking, especially, those where residents are involved. All we want are outcomes that guarantee uninterrupted service delivery hence our commitment and sacrifice of financial resources to aid council outside of the rates we pay,” the BRRA said.
The association also encouraged fellow residents’ associations to bail out the local authority in whatever capacity they can saying if ratepayers shun the municipality things will only get worse.
“We know other residents’ associations do not think that coming to the rescue of the city is a good idea but our advice is that if residents withhold their participation, things will only get worse. As much as our associations are pressure groups, the only form of pressure applicable to our council now is partnering with them in meeting their deliverables. This, in a way, makes them transparent and accountable to residents. BRRA engagement with the Department of Works, among other departments, is producing phenomenal results that are slowly resonating in our ward communities. We try and assist them overcome hurdles and bureaucratic ‘airlocks’ sometimes just with ideas and suggestions through amicable dialogue,” said the BRRA.
The BRRA has on numerous occasions helped council with repairing the Borrowdale District Office, Borrowdale council clinic, road repairs, painting pedestrian crossings at schools, repairing traffic lights and reviving broken down refuse collection trucks.
This week the BRRA facilitated the repairing of the council vehicle allocated to the district officer at Borrowdale District Office.
BRRA felt compelled to help with the repairs in a bid to ensure the district officer is mobile and can be able to push service delivery across Ward 18.
In a statement, BRRA chairperson Mr Robert Mutyasira announced that the district officer’s car is now functional after the residents’ body facilitated the repairs.
It had been off the road for a number of months and the district officer could not fully function to expectation without it.
“When the vehicle broke down due to a clutch problem, it could not be attended to as COH did not have the resources. We brought in an external mechanic to look at it and he gave a list of requirements which we purchased and work was done on the vehicle. Residents would now want to see the implementation of activities and top on the agenda, the enforcement of by-laws. The illegalities bedevilling the entire ward are shocking and immediate action must be taken.
“The DO (district officer) needs a vehicle to superintend the entire district. She needs to attend to residents queries, identify illegal settlements and stop all activities outside the provisions of the by-laws.
“She advises the development control (unit) to take action where it is needed after having been to the different sites.
“BRRA provided the funds from their pot coming from subscriptions,” said Mr Mutyasira.
However, some wards notably Ward 7 (Avondale, Avondale West, Alexandra Park, Belgravia, Gunhill, Kensington and Strathaven) have disapproved such interventions saying they promote dereliction of duty on the part of the municipality as it will seek to outsource more of its responsibilities.
“This must never be encouraged especially when the ward has no control over who drives (the refuse truck) and how it is driven to where for what. He who owns must maintain, simple,” reasoned one Ward 7 resident.
Another one said: “I tend to agree with you. There is no doubt, the more you do in CoH’s stead (in their place) the more they will default on many other things, going forward.
Such an intervention may well solve a critical problem, for a while. But confidence in CoH policing itself (reserving a repaired compactor for our ward only) is non-existent.
And it will only help promote more dereliction of duty, by franchising more responsibilities out of CoH. Whilst still charging for service delivered.”