Whoever wins the 2018 elections whether its MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa, or Zanu PF’s Emmerson Mnangagwa or another candidate must grapple with critical questions around service delivery, without which the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra would become empty and meaningless.
By Dumisani O Nkomo
The provision of basic services by those entities legally and statutorily mandated to provide such services is key to human and economic development.
Human development, as defined by the United Nations Development Programme, should be epitomised by access to basic services, which in themselves are indicators of the level of development of the citizens of any country.
To this extent, the availability of services such as water, electricity, sanitation, public transport, health and education is essential to any country.
Importantly, I would like to argue that access to Information Communication Technology is and must be a basic service because without access to ICTs, communities and citizens are excluded from the global village and from critical financial transactions which are determined by access to ICT.
Without sound service delivery, economic growth and development will be a perpetual mirage, as investment locates itself within an enabling framework.
Business cannot be done in a vacuum and that is an indisputable fact.
The following services are crucial for any country serious about human and economic development in the context of Africa:
Water and sanitation
The issue of access to clean water is enshrined in the country’s Constitution under the declaration of rights.
Access to clean water is, thus, a fundamental human right which no Zimbabwean should be struggling to access in this day and age.
Availability of water is also key to industrialisation and water shortages can potentially cripple some economic activities. It is scandalous that in this day and age, we, as a nation, are still celebrating Blair toilets as a national achievement in rural areas.
Why should we lower standards for our citizens by ululating the movement of people from open defecation under trees to squat holes in tiny toilets.
Surely, as a nation, we can do more than this.
While I applaud the efforts of humanitarian agencies in building Blair toilets, I would like to strongly advocate for equal standards of sanitation for all Zimbabweans.
Surely, the abundance of squat holes cannot be a measure of human development in this day and age.
A well-developed sewer reticulation system must be developed in the next 10 to 15 years to ensure that there is significant human development epitomised by human dignity.
The availability of electricity is a fundamental reflection of the level of development of any community.
Additionally, availability of electricity is key to the growth of industry and a conducive business environment.
The abundant potential of solar energy must be tapped into as a viable eco-friendly energy alternative, which will place the country on a path of sustainable energy provision.
Refuse collection and sewer reticulation
Refuse collection is a basic service, which local authorities must provide in order to ensure that our urban centres do not become gigantic dump sites.
There must a conscious effort by local authorities to promote recycling and re- use of waste as a sustainable waste management strategy. Waste management strategies of local authorities must not just focus on waste disposal, but fundamentally converting waste to energy for industrial and domestic use.
Biogas as an alternative form of energy must, thus, be vigorously explored.
The Environmental Management Authority, science and technology institutions such the National University of Science and Technology, local authorities and the private sector can form formidable partnerships to develop alternative, sustainable energy use, which will not only unlock value for individual citizens, but also importantly for economic development as well.
The country’s road network is deplorable and this is inconvenient, not only for the country’s citizens, but also for investors. Access to markets is determined by sound road, rail and air infrastructure and services.
The country needs massive investment in the arena of development of transport infrastructure as a basis for service delivery and economic development. Most of the roads in Bulawayo, for example, were built by the colonial government and very few by our own black government.
The availability of information communication technology must no longer be viewed as a luxury but a basic need without which the country’s citizens are excluded from the global community of citizens. Electronic financial transactions make it imperative for the country’s telecommunication, communication and technological infrastructure to be competitive.
Access and availability of information communication technology is, thus, a vital service for individual and corporate citizens without which ordinary citizens cannot participate in the mainstream economy.