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Comment: Council must improve service delivery

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The country’s largest city has badly deteriorated infrastructure, in particular roads, housing and health facilities — creating a complex of urban ills.

The troubles in Harare are familiar to any city dweller. The crime rate is soaring. People are beginning to get that eerie feeling walking across parking lots.

The deterioration in Harare’s major roads is inspiring less and less confidence among the city’s residents, investors and visitors alike.

Its shabby state is pockmarked with leaking pipes, blocked sewer pipes and the roads are riddled with potholes.

The kingdom-style political organisation at Town House is especially devastating on the local authority’s service delivery. It is made worse with the continued interference by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo.

There is no doubt that Harare has problems in full measure.

The city council carries the heaviest debt in the country. It is trying to patch potholes across all major roads in Harare — and of course — it is failing.

But council reports always show that the local authority is channelling most of the money received from ratepayers towards salaries for its senior employees.

Government policy is that 70% of resources should be channelled towards service delivery while 30% should be devoted to salaries.

Barring Chombo’s interference in council operations, residents are not happy with the fact that the city fathers are focusing more on paying salaries while municipal service delivery continues to deteriorate.

Political bickering rages at Town House pitting Chombo against the MDC-T dominated council led by Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda.

What is disturbing are reports that the bulk of the council employees have not yet received their December salaries yet senior managers reportedly received hefty cash payouts for use during holidays, at the expense of service delivery.

Although there is a need for the council to boost the morale of its employees through competitive remuneration, residents’ issues should also be addressed with the same urgency because they are the ones who pay the rates.

We believe Harare City Council should reconsider its priority areas and make efforts to improve municipal service delivery.

Surely if residents are to part with their hard- earned money, they also deserve quality services from the city council.

The state of the roads in the city is deplorable, most of the traffic control lights are not working, street lighting in most suburbs is next to non-existent, community recreational facilities are in a sorry state and piles of uncollected refuse litter most shopping centres around the city yet the council does not seem to make any effort to correct these maladies.

As much as the council needs to cater for its senior staff’s welfare, there is also urgent need to restore quality municipal service delivery.

If the council is paying hefty salaries, then they do not have any excuse for neglecting their core business of restoring Harare to its sunshine city status.

We call upon city councillors, who are the representatives of the ratepayers, to critically look at rehabilitating our roads and other infrastructure and question issues of salaries as it is a pointer to serious matters of personal aggrandisement at Town House.

We also call on the Combined Harare Residents’ Association to continue to advocate and lobby for a democratic local government system and the provision of quality and affordable services on a non-partisan basis.

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