Towards total service delivery for residents

16 Sep, 2022 - 00:09 0 Views
Towards total service delivery for residents ZNOART national chairperson Shalvar Chikomba

Suburban

AS the umbrella organ playing the oversight role over the way Zimbabwean local councils discharge their mandate for service delivery, the Zimbabwe National Organisation of Associations of Residents Trusts (ZNOART) registers great concern over the way most local authorities have abrogated their national mandate of service delivery and now use their privileged positions to “loot” and “line their pockets” at the expense of service delivery. Local authorities in Zimbabwe have been characterised by a continuous deterioration in the area of service delivery.

As such, ZNOART seeks to draw the attention of the nation to the unfortunate transformation of the country’s local authorities into havens of corruption, poor water, uncollected refuse and burst sewerage systems, unplanned housing and parcelling of land and, above all, a foil to the country’s trajectory towards Vision 2030.

Corruption, misappropriation of funds, illegal land invasions and criminal abuse of office are some of the ills that have rocked most urban councils with several councillors and council officials having been arraigned before the courts. We have witnessed the Mutare council’s USD12 million lost to councillors’ allowances, the missing USD200 million from Harare City Council coffers after the local authorities terminated a contract with its financial software supplier. 

As residents we are therefore demanding that all council workshops be done locally in their respective local cities until such a time service delivery improves. 

Through our network of representatives across the country’s administrative local authorities, ZNOART continues to receive disturbing news about the rot and corruption that haunts many councils in Zimbabwe.

For cities like Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare, ZNOART is calling for forensic and life style audits to be conducted on all current employees, former and long-serving council and municipal officials. We are concerned that there are cabals which are lining their pockets through land parcelling and tender scams because surely how does a local authority decide to approach land use outside the provisions of the laid down procedures and blueprints without following the housing waiting list which has been proven to work in the past as it ensures residents get stands transparently.

Land barons who have invaded our wetlands and land reserved for recreational facilities are causing havoc everywhere with evidence that they work hand in glove with council officials. As residents we await the day these land barons and council officials will be tried and jailed. 

Land barons and space barons have no space in our communities as they belong in jail.  ZNOART is equally concerned with the way most residents have accepted water woes as a norm rather than an exception. To have people getting to 25 years of age in their locality of birth with no access to running water in this modern age is a mockery of the country’s independence.

In Masvingo, Bulawayo and Harare, residents have gone on for many years without the precious liquid, yet the councils continue to charge exorbitant bills for a service they are not giving. In like terms, one is irked by the way councils rely on “estimates” for their billing system, thus prejudicing many residents, with particularly Harare operating without a functioning billing system for a long time now. Recently we witnessed councils rebasing bills to foreign currency. We are challenging and demanding that councils must furnish us with proof of any legal basis for rebasing the 2022 tariffs.

There is no provision for rebasing of a budget under our laws in Zimbabwe. Furthermore, all the approved 2022 budgets do not contain any provision allowing for rebasing and to that extent, the rebasing of 2022 tariffs has no basis.

We wish to advise that the rebasing of the 2022 tariffs in United States dollars is contrary to the clear provisions of Section 288 of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:03) as read with Section 47 of the Public Finance Management Act. 

Residents as interested stakeholders expect the money that they pay in rates and tariffs to be channelled towards service delivery.

Without clean water, non-collection of refuse an urban area loses its lustre, but this has become the way of life in most suburbs of Zimbabwe.

With regards to parking charges being hiked willy-nilly by councils, it boggles the mind as to how the councils expect people to religiously meet these service charge obligations when there is no development to talk about. The exorbitant parking fees we have witnessed recently in Bulawayo and Harare (and penalty on defaulting motorists), yet most parking areas are not well marked in some cities and towns, is a thorn in the flesh for the cash-strapped residents and has created a haven of corruption for municipal police officers.

Pursuant to the foregoing, ZNOART calls upon all councils of Zimbabwe to conduct their affairs with impeccable professionalism and to abide by best global best practices on good corporate governance. All councils should be open to public scrutiny regarding how they spend the money paid from the sweat of the struggling residents. All expenditure done should be scrutinised and, if not justified as residents we will demand accountability from these local authorities. As residents we are facing difficulties in accessing full council minutes from council Chambers may these be open for residents so that we can be able to scrutinise councils’ performance is as much as service delivery is concerned 

In the spirit of national development, it is important that the parent Ministry of Local Government takes measures to effect a “cleansing” process so as to sanitise the way councils discharge their mandate.

Where necessary justice should be done through legal processes by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police in all areas where reports of gross irregularities are raised.

To this end, ZNOART is in the process of conducting a robust research-based fact-finding mission that unpacks the way councils have aligned development processes to the nationally-prescribed blueprint of each local authority.

ZNOART is optimistic that once all irregularities affecting the current modus operandi in most councils are plugged, the nation will move boldly towards its coveted Upper Middle Income Economy by 2030. This calls for a radical paradigm shift from the past scenario in which some council officials would personalise council property and, thus, abuse their privileged positions.

There is need for a clean-up of all under-performing councils and to move towards transparency in land allocation and tendering processes.

In like terms, all local authorities should re-invigorate water supply and garbage collection, with a radical approach needed to address the issue of “unplanned” settlements which many residents see as a health time bomb. Garbage is going for months uncollected, putting people’s health at risk. This is the growing urban pollution we always complain about. But our complaints are falling on deaf ears, meaning this urban pollution will continue to worsen. 

City councils are to blame for the crisis. There is need to educate people on causes of pollution and how to avert it and for Government to intervene in development towards waste management 

The Government has tried putting policies, there is lack of a monitoring mechanisms by the local authorities.

With pollution now rife in Zimbabwe’s towns and cities, residents are at the receiving end, dirty air which causes respiratory diseases and also dirty polluted water which causes ingestion diseases and climate change.

 Environment laws need to be changed because the fines for environmental degradation are too little to be a deterrent.”

Heaps of uncollected garbage continue to pile, flies manifest, diseases break out, and when the rains fall, the garbage is washed away and blocks our drainage system,

Also corruption has also fueled pollution of Zimbabwe’s towns and cities,

Garbage is not being collected because funds are being looted by corrupt council officials. We can’t blame the citizens because there are no waste bins on the streets and refuse is not being collected the whole blame should be apportioned to councils who have failed residents they have no plan in as far as refuse collection and Waste management is concerned putting the residents lives in danger. 

 Resolution 

 As ZNOART an overall residents body in Zimbabwe from the of 1st of September 2022 *we have resolved and we are urging all residents to take all their refuse and bins not collected in time to their nearest district office or any council office nearer to them. 

 By this we just hope councils will be forced to execute their mandate of collecting refuse at our homes, because surely we can’t continue living with dirty and heaps of dumpsites in our communities and homes  

Urban Transport 

We appreciate and welcome the introduction of private urban transporters by the Government.  The ZUPCO buses were being overwhelmed by the number of commuters. However, as residents’ representatives we are equally shocked by the corruption which is happening in these ZUPCO buses orchestrated by drivers and conductors and we believe Government should keep monitoring this public transport enterprise if we are to realise a proper functioning transportation system. We are also demanding the removal of mushika-shika on our roads most of them who have turned to be a law unto themselves, with most of them robbing and killing residents.  – Issued by Shalvar Chikomba ZNOART national chairperson

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