Stop blaming residents for council’s ineptitude

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The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has fined the Harare City Council $15 000 for, among other things, “depositing raw sewage into water sources, dishing out stands on wetlands and failure to clean up the environment”.

We reported in our story on Friday titled “EMA fines Harare $15 000” the city was found wanting in most cases to do with the environment.

Unfortunately, Prosper Chonzi, the acting town clerk who was representing the city fathers, was at pains to pass the buck, claiming the problems were caused by residents, government and companies.

While we agree that to a large extent the government, through the political interference of Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, is responsible for the chaos at council, we still maintain the buck stops with the local authority and the city fathers are guilty of all the
charges.

It is sadly ironical that council is flouting its own by-laws in broad daylight without giving a hoot.

The results of council’s nonchalant attitude to service delivery have been severe, culminating in deaths caused by the outbreak of diseases such as cholera and typhoid.

But even in the face of such overwhelming evidence of ineptitude, council has the audacity to blame residents for its failure to deliver meaningful service.

Council should stop trying to make residents and companies scapegoats for its ineptitude, dereliction of duty and blatant corruption.

Where do residents and companies come in with the parcelling-out of stands in wetlands?

Isn’t that emblematic of the inherent rot in council where the city fathers are out to make a quick buck?

It is the duty of council to ensure residents access safe drinking water, but we find it strange that the very same council contaminates water sources by depositing raw sewage, only to turn around and blame the victims — residents.

Harare used to be called the “Sunshine City” because of its cleanliness, but now it can be called the “Eyesore City” because of its polluted environment with garbage strewn everywhere.

If council had been guilty of turning a blind eye to uncollected garbage without contributing to littering the city, we could have felt some modicum of forgiveness.

But we cannot tolerate council’s flimsy excuses because we have often published in NewsDay, for example, pictures of council workers dumping garbage in the streets, particularly at the bus terminus located at the corner of Jason Moyo Avenue and Cameron Street.

In its judgment, the EMA ordered council to “attend to all sewerage bursts in all residential areas within 24 hours” and to “ensure weekly collection of refuse from the residential areas and business centres with immediate effect”.

Residents and companies will definitely be relieved to hear that council is now being forced to carry out its basic duties of service delivery — refuse collection and attending to burst sewerage pipes — that the city fathers had long forgotten about in their scramble to make a quick buck through activities such as parcelling out wetlands to unsuspecting residents and companies.

We think it is high time council gave residents a break by concentrating on good service delivery. That is what they were elected to do.