Open Letter to Councillor Happymore Gotora

10 May, 2024 - 00:05 0 Views
Open Letter to Councillor Happymore Gotora Councillor Happymore Gotora who represents Ward 17.


Dear Cllr Gotora,

DO YOU and CoH (City of Harare) want all residents to bring their rates accounts up to date and avoid by all means getting into arrears? Or don’t you?

If the answer is Yes, then why is communication from CoH such a disaster?

You chair Council’s Information and Publicity Committee. Why are communications from CoH so appalling? So much spin and silence, seriously undermining residents’ confidence in Council?

Last week we added Mr Mushandu on our residents water WhatsApp platform, to cover Zone 8, on Ward 17’s western side.

We did that when we specifically needed clear answers to at least two specific queries about problems in Mabelreign. All that we have got from him, so far, is one “noted”, on Friday morning.

We are not interested in specious, vague, meaningless “Noted”!! We said goodbye to that when the last ‘Mr Noted’ was transferred by CoH to another part of the city!

Mr Mushandu was not added to the platform so he can “note” things while he turns his back to those who pay his salary. He was added so that he can provide answers, explanations. Deliver concrete action. Results. Timelines, such as Sentosa residents are still waiting for, almost three weeks after CoH water engineers supposedly met to come up with a concrete plan to alleviate those residents’ 20 years long misery.

But he is giving us nothing. Nothing on the Ward 17 Water platform and nothing on the dedicated Sentosa water group chat, launched recently amidst so much fanfare and expectations.

If the meeting with residents at Sentosa on 14th of last month was supposed to make up for the answers that Engineer Kunyadini and Mr Stanley Gama notably failed to provide about the years long potable water drought in parts of that suburb, why is there nothing but deafening silence another three weeks on? Save for a thoroughly vague promise on 29th of April, two whole weeks after the meeting.

A burst pipe leak at corner Meath/Cornwall roads, Avondale West, was first reported on 13th April. About 10 days ago, CoH workers finally turned up, a big hole was dug up and then abandoned. CoH have since gone AWOL while the leak has resumed with a vengeance.

And yet, ironically, at the same time the whole suburb is dry in terms of domestic water supply.

We keep asking on the relevant group chat when will the leak actually be repaired, or at least temporarily stopped, and when will Avondale West get water back in our taps, and we might as well be talking to a brick wall.

Is that what we pay our rates for? Wasted treated water, dry taps and stone wall silence? Where is our water? When will CoH repair the burst pipe and stop expensive chemicals literally going down the drain?

Why isn’t Mr Mutoro, responsible for this side of our ward, answering our questions?

We now have EIGHT CoH officials on our Ward 17 Water group chat, not counting yourself. You wouldn’t know they exist.

It is patently inconceivable that a municipal authority does not owe rate paying consumers explanations and updates about water supply.

Our Refuse Collection platform was set up over eight years ago. And still, after eight whole years, most of the time we find ourselves complaining and chasing, again and again, until we are blue in the face, for reliable, meaningful, timely, useful alerts and feedback! Why? Why don’t the CoH staff do their job consistently and keep us properly informed?

Why on earth are CoH staff nominated for residents’ WhatsApp service delivery platforms in the first place?  To serve as decorations?

Why do CoH communications about service delivery continue to be such an abject failure most of the time?

A few months ago you declared that Council’s communications policy was being reviewed and would improve. In Mr Mushandu’s “noted” and Mr Mutoro’s silence we see only regression. Some of us, at least, are not so preoccupied with “world class city  status” in our lifetimes. We just want a reasonably reliable, if imperfect service. And some respect. Honest communication and information are surely key to that. Why do Messrs Kunyadini, Chigariro, Mutoro, Mushandu, and others deny us that, systematically?

Why do you and CoH take residents so much for granted?

I put it to you that information dissemination is about supplying information that is needed or has been requested, long before it is about spin, in expensively produced glossy brochures. It is certainly not about buying time and keeping residents guessing, interminably.

It sometimes happens that City of Harare will instead give verbal feedback to individual residents. Privately.

And yet, rather than answering 5, 10 or 20 different individual queries privately, all that a CoH service delivery manager has to do is inform 100 or 200 residents at once, on a group chat, and save time.

No resident wants to be unreasonable, impatient or unkind, simply for the sake of controversy or conflict. We recognise you face obstacles and constraints. But we are driven to complain bitterly by Council’s persistent opaqueness and arrogant silence.

Guess what: silence is toxic – it only antagonises residents and kills their trust in Council and City of Harare. It is counter-productive. It is unacceptable.

How many expensive resources does it take to give suitably prompt and meaningful feedback and updates concerning the supply of service, or the repair of burst pipes on a WhatsApp group chat?

How can Harare City Council and CoH expect us to trust you, and rush to pay our rates, when you brush us aside day in, day out? As if you have something to hide? —John Vekris, Resident.

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