THE State of the City Address (SOCA) delivered by Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume on Tuesday this week touched on a number of relevant issues to residents.
Councillor Mafume acknowledged that the City of Harare was facing huge challenges in the areas of refuse collection, disposal and management, water, traffic lights, street lights and illegal developments. The admission by the Mayor was commendable but we expected the SOCA should have clearly set out the measures being taken to address these service delivery issues.
Councillor Mafume listed the city’s wish list of the service delivery issues that it wants to address in the second half of the year. He promised that the municipality is going to fix the city by getting its priorities right for the first time. The city’s major focus areas for the second half of the year will be potable water supply, effective waste management, roads rehabilitation, health delivery, lobbying for additional land from central Government for housing development and good financial management for enhanced service delivery.
It is true all the above are ingredients for a well-governed city that can deliver seamless services to its customers but we feel the Mayor’s address should have gone deeper and gave residents targets and timelines instead of just enumerating the city’s woes and the desire to address them.
The municipality must not waste any more time on planning, speeches and strategies. The city’s councillors and administrators must get their act together and change the fortunes of the capital city because so many things have just gone down in Harare. People are vending in front of private properties and illegal settlements are mushrooming all over while the city’s authorities take no action.
Businesses such as grinding mills are also being willy-nilly established in residential areas while noise pollution has also become as huge menace. Houses are being converted into churches where prayer sessions go on for long hours with loud music being played without considering the convenience of those in neighbouring properties. Some of the worshippers are so arrogant they accuse residents, who approach them to consider the plight of others in terms of noise pollution, anti-Christ.
The collapse of the city’s refuse collection has brought about new problems of illegal dumping all over residential areas and shopping centres and the burning of waste by some inconsiderate residents. Harare has to start taking concrete measures to retrace steps to its former status of being the Sunshine City. The city needs a complete turnaround of its operations to be able to provide services again. It is a tough task but it can be done if the councillors and the council bureaucrats do the right things and show the willpower to push for service delivery.
Residents have become weary over the relentless collapse of services in the capital city. We now have a generation of city dwellers who do not know that a city can actually be run with an efficient waste management system and providing tap water to every household. This generation has become accustomed to mediocrity, they actually wonder when they are told that council used to collect refuse on a weekly basis without fail.