Poor service delivery irks Chitungwiza residents

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The sprawling town of Chitungwiza is battling a crippling water shortage, recurrent sewer bursts and piling garbage, and against this grim backdrop, residents say they have lost faith in the municipality.

The municipality has shown a predilection for hogging news headlines for reasons other than development and progress.

Towards the end of last year, the municipality ran a promotion in which residents and rate payers, who settled half their outstanding bills, had the remaining half slashed off.

Sources at the municipality said out of the over $180 000 raised through the promotion, only $30 000 could be accounted for.

In separate interviews with NewsDay, residents said they had hoped the money raked in through the promotion would be used in service delivery, particularly ensuring a consistent supply of potable water, collection of garbage and attending to sewer leakages that have blighted the town.

“What is quite shocking,” according to a Zengeza 5 resident Samson Hlabiso, “is that we hear council employees were not paid even after the promotion. One wonders where the money went to. As I speak right now, we haven’t had water for almost a week.”

Other residents felt the municipality had taken them for granted for too long and accused council officials of lining their pockets at the expense of service provision the town is crying out for.

“These people are selfish. All they think about is buying themselves cars and using the money we pay to enrich themselves when a lot of work needs to be done, especially attending to burst sewer pipes,” said Harvey Muronda of Zengeza 1.

Chitungwiza council employees were only paid their November salaries this month while the December salaries are still outstanding.

The situation forced them to embark on an industrial action, which further paralysed service delivery in this dormitory town, much to the chagrin of residents and ratepayers.

The town council on Wednesday resolved to send town clerk Godfrey Tanyanyiwa on forced leave pending investigations into allegations of misappropriating council funds meant for employees’ salaries.

Councillor for Ward 17, Jacob Rukweza, said Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo recently summoned the council to his office after learning workers had not been paid for two months and seemed exasperated by Tanyanyiwa.

“During the meeting, the minister was furious and he told the town clerk to shape up or ship out because he had failed to take full control of council affairs. When we went back to council (after the meeting), a resolution was made to send the town clerk on forced leave to pave way for investigations,” he said.

Mayor Philemon Chipiyo confirmed Tanyanyiwa was forced to go on leave. He said they particularly wanted to establish what happened to the money raked in during council promotion.

“It’s surprising workers have not been paid after we raked in money through the promotion. The November and December salaries are outstanding. So where did that money go? If he (Tanyanyiwa) is innocent, he will come back to work,” he said.

In September last year, the Chitungwiza Residents’ Association, in collaboration with the Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT) held a meeting at which residents expressed anger at the manner in which the town was being run.

In a report following the meeting, HRT membership officer Simbarashe Majamanda noted residents were not amused by the council’s poor service delivery, failure to attend to potholed roads, frequent sewerage bursts and water shortages.

“Some parts of Chitungwiza have gone for years without water. Other problems in the area include illegal structures which are clustered all over and inconsistent billing which has brought untold frustration and suffering to rate payers” Majamanda said.

The inconsistent refuse collection system had forced residents to use their backyards and roadsides as dumping areas as a measure of disposing uncollected garbage.

“Residents of Chitungwiza are saddened by erratic water supplies. Residents in Ward 22, Chitungwiza Unit ‘O’ have gone for years without water whilst they are paying rates to council. Residents said there was so much pressure on boreholes drilled by Unicef (they could not cope),” Majamanda said.