Service delivery is an essential function in the relation between local authorities and rate payers. The MDC-T led Harare City Council (HCC) should be encouraged to effectively improve its service delivery whilst in turn rate payers should pay their dues in a bid to bring back the sunshine status of our beloved city.
This year, almost every part of the country received normal to above normal rainfall. However, the heavy rains that have been pouring since late last year have laid bare the HCC shortcomings much to the dismay of the long-suffering rate payers. Sadly, most roads in Harare suburbs are in a bad state characterized by deep potholes that most motorists are at risk of purchasing new sets of tyres after every four to five months. HCC should put extra effort to rehabilitate and maintain these roads, which have become a death trap.
In addition, there is really need for HCC to routinely cut long grass along road sides in the city. Due to continuous rainfall, grass is likely to grow at a fast rate than is normal. This long grass is dangerous for motorists as it obscures their vision, for instance, if one is driving towards a junction on the road, he/she will not see oncoming traffic and risk being involved in an accident. Many an accidents have been witnessed as a result.
Failure to maintain roads by local authorities does not only affect rate payers but the economy at large. Reports of tourists who bring in foreign currency avoiding countries with poor infrastructure are on record and no tourist is happy to visit a country with bad roads such as ours have become.
In most high density suburbs of Harare, HCC is failing to frequently collect refuse. The local authority should be reminded that it is a deadly health hazard bordering on a time bomb to skip a week or two of collecting refuse especially in this rainy season. Piles of refuse will expose citizens to diseases such as typhoid and the dreaded cholera.
Sad to note is that Harare city councillors consider enriching themselves at the expense of offering proper service delivery to the public. Most city council employees are being paid hefty salaries and meager allocation is being left for service provision. Council bosses should not abuse their privileges by paying themselves and other workers mega salaries which does not tally with service provision.
In that vein, city council should consider going back to the drawing board and revise its wage bill, thus, from the person at the top down to the least paid person, there is really need for salary reduction.
On the other hand, citizens who owe local authorities should make efforts in attempting to pay their dues.
Municipal authorities should find best ways and means of debt collection so as to recover the millions of dollars of unpaid rates. Like what ZESA successfully effected, introduction of pre-paid water meters will enable local authorities to take a certain percentage of their money owed which will also assist rate payers in lessening their arrears.
It is, however, disheartening to note that most local authorities' audit reports from the Auditor General's office reveal that the majority of council bosses are engaged in corrupt activities. It is an offence for councillors to be embroiled in underhand dealings. Corrupt officials are not suitable for holding public office and this compromises service delivery.
Truth be said, corruption by public officials does not just mean citizens money wasted. It also means that the public needs are not fairly and properly considered when projects are designed and implemented. Corruption undermines the quality of work and services, which in turn can negatively affect a functional business environment.
Last year, MDC-T secretary for Local Government, Eddie Cross openly admitted that their party has not been providing its councillors with information that assists them to carry out their duties effectively and efficiently. At one point, Harare Mayor, Bernard Manyenyeni indicated that service delivery is compromised by illiterate councilors and the evidence is there for all to see as service delivery is at its lowest since the country gained independence in 1980.
Most MDC-T led councils have been condemned for poor service delivery, mismanagement and corruption and the chickens will be coming home to roost in the next elections as fed up rate payers will obviously chuck out the deadwood in the Town House.
- Peacemaker Zano