WARD 7 residents have urged caretaker councillor for the area Councillor Stewart Mutizwa who is also acting mayor for Harare to interact with them and answer their questions on non-delivery of services by the City of Harare.
Diana Nherera Suburban Reporter
The residents said they were being billed for services they were not enjoying and this calls for explanations from the City of Harare authorities, in particular their caretaker councillor Mr Mutizwa.
Residents spoke about how the recalls of councillors in some wards in the northern suburbs had undoubtedly affected service delivery.
Councillors for Wards 6 (Avenues), 7 (Avondale, Avondale West, Kensington, Strathaven, Belgravia), 8 (Chisipite, Highlands, Ballantyne Park, Newlands), 16 (Mabelreign, Ashdown Park, Meyrick Park, Sentosa, Haig Park, Madokero, Matidoda, Lenana, Bloomingdale) and 41 (Marlborough, Bluff Hill, Westgate) were recalled following factional fights in the opposition ranks between the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance – on whose ticket the councillors were elected – and the Douglas Mwonzora led MDC-T.
Ward 17 (Mt Pleasant, Groombridge, parts of Pomona), Councillor Jacob Mafume — who is the substantive mayor of Harare – is currently on suspension.
President Mnangagwa has since indicated that the by-elections to replace recalled or deceased councillors and Members of Parliament will be held in March 2022. Government had suspended the by-elections citing the Covid-19.
Recently, Mr Mutizwa announced the appointment of caretaker councillors to take charge of the wards where councillors were recalled but it appears the move is not helping.
The slump in service delivery is evident in some of the stories Suburban has running throughout the entire year with residents failing to have their inquiries on issues affecting them addressed.
One such ward is Ward 7 where issues such as lack of water supply, non-collection of refuse and burst water pipes continue to dog the ward.
Residents of Cheryl road in Avondale said they have gone for over four weeks without refuse collection.
A resident of that road said they now have over 30 black plastic bags filled with uncollected garbage and were recently forced to hire a private refuse collection company to remove the rubbish.
According to the resident, one driver of a City of Harare refuse compactor said he would only collect their rubbish if he got an incentive.
“The refuse driver stated they will only collect if we pay them underhand.
“I don’t agree to pay them more,” said the Cheryl Road resident.
The resident said they had to bath with an antiseptic disinfectant after handling the rubbish when it was being collected by the private refuse company because it had developed a strong stench attracting flies, rats and maggots.
“I had to have a Dettol bath after the rubbish was collected by a private company.
“Is this how we have to live when we pay our rates?” asked another resident.
Some residents from Cheryl Road said they would not hire a private refuse collector when they are also paying council every month.
“Others won’t pay extra for a private company as they pay their rates and expect a service.”
Residents of Avondale West complained of burst water pipes in their suburb and in Strathaven while council workers were digging up trenches and leaving them uncovered for several months.
“They have dug up holes all over the neighbourhood when they came to fix some water leaks and they never come back to fill the holes.
“They stay like that for months,” complained an Avondale West resident.
She gave an example of a burst water pipe on Lymington Road in New Strathaven where water was reportedly leaking all over and at the corner of Tyrone and West Roads in Avondale West.
The resident said she gets water between Fridays and Tuesday but the supplies were not reliable.
“The water situation is not too good either.
“I get water usually from Friday to Tuesday on and off but other people really battle for water,” she said.
Reports from residents also indicated that council workers left a huge leak unattended when they came to attend to a nearby sewer pipe burst on West Road near Blue Lagoon shopping centre.
“It had been running down Huntley and Chester roads since last Saturday,” said a resident.
In Kensington residents urged caretaker councillor for Ward 7 Councillor Mutizwa to interact more with residents in order to understand the challenges they were facing prior to his appointment.
“The so-called caretaker councillor should be on our WhatsApp groups together with officials from the (Mt Pleasant) district office explaining to residents what is happening in the ward.
“Anyway we never put an X for him during the elections,” said the Kensington resident.
He said he has not heard from Cllr Mutizwa on issues regarding refuse collection which he described as badly deteriorating of late.
“Some places have gone without collections for over six weeks.
“There has been no explanation from the Mt Pleasant district officer either.
“The same goes for water cuts; here on Kenny Road, we have had no water since last Friday and again, there is no explanation as to what is happening.
“Surely the city and the so-called caretaker councillor owe the residents an explanation as to what is the cause of the non-provision of these services for which are billed regardless.”
Some Avondale residents are receiving unusually high water bills from the City of Harare to the tune of more than ZWL$23 000 when they hardly get municipal tap water.
An affected resident said she was shocked when she got her October bill, which was pegged at ZWL$23 430 when she does not even use City of Harare water.
The resident told Suburban that she last used council water more than 20 years ago and was shocked to receive such a bill.
“The bill for $23 000 was for the month of October which made me examine my bills closely and I realised that I had been charged around $1 200 every month for no municipal water for over 20 years.
“The funny thing is when I raised the issue last week, the very helpful agent at Rowan Martin said that the meter readers knew we had no water since 2000 and the meter reading had not changed since then.
“So the preposterous amount charged was clearly the creation of someone in the accounts department,” she said.
The resident vowed not to pay the bill.
Cllr Mutizwa was not available for comment.