Council should prioritise service delivery

THE proposal by Harare councillor, Jacob Mafume, to award council employees a salary hike at a time service delivery is at its lowest is not only mistimed, but demonstrates a culture of impunity that has characterised the administration of the city – where personal gain is always considered as paramount as ratepayers are neglected.

Editorial

For too long, service delivery in Harare has continued to deteriorate while successive administrations of the city blew huge amounts of money on large pay cheques and luxury vehicles, among other expensive non-essentials.

In fact, Harare council is considered to be one of the highest paying institutions with most of its workers earning more than their counterparts in central government while its wage bill is more than the recommended 70:30 ratio to service delivery.

The cholera epidemic that we are battling right now, which is threatening to engulf the whole country, emanated from Harare where consistent provision of clean, potable water to residents has long been placed on the back burner.

Indeed, the city needs skilled and experienced staff, but we should not rush to put the horse before the cart. What is more critical at the moment is to ensure that resources are mobilised and invested into the city’s water reticulation system. We have a huge disaster on our hands in the face of the macabre harvest of lives by cholera, and we are thinking about pay increases? Why prioritise pay increases before finding lasting solutions to water challenges, among many others, have been implemented?

It’s a serious indictment on the city fathers that people should still be dying of such a primitive disease in this day and age, particulary in a country that is not at war. For many years, the city employees have been among some of the most highly paid by Zimbabwean standards, and we wonder what has been done so far to justify those huge salaries? In this Second Republic, this is part of a culture that should be done away with.

Granted, conditions of service have to be improved and salaries should also be fair, but that also has to be counter-balanced with the need for proper service provision to residents, many of whom continue to pay their bills, but have gone for over 20 years without running water while garbage piles up on street corners and sewage flows within the residential areas, leading to the recurrent outbreaks of waterborne diseases.

Since the era of the now discontinued executive mayors in the 1990s, sucessive administrations have come and gone but the city is still battling the same issues.

There is no progress whatsoever because of that culture and mindset where people are merely looking at how to line their pockets first.

This is a legacy that needs to be dealt with so that the city can establish a new management culture that will be beneficial to residents and ratepayers who are the primary stakeholders.


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3 Comments

  1. The debate now is do we need these conucillors or not because if what this jacob guy said represent the voice of the majority of councillors then we can expect the next 5 years to be hell as there will be busy looking for ways to fleece the system.

  2. Well said!! The funny thing is that the new councillors are trying to share blame for the current outbreak of cholera with government yet the buck stops with council. As mentioned above, there is an agreed policy that 70% of revenues generated should go towards service delivery. This policy was put in place for a reason but since MDC started dominating local authorities, the policy has repeatedly been ignored (with the possible exception of Bulawayo City Council which has been doing relatively well). If councils continue to ignore agreed policies, should government be blamed for advising ratepayers not to continue putting their rates monies into this bottomless pit? Any right thinking person will not buy the arguement that the government instituted commission whose life was shortlived is to blame for failure by council to carry out required sewage repairs on time for the technical arms of council are supposed to be always fully functional, whether councillors terms of office have expired or not. The MDC also forgets that they have called for sanctions to be maintained on the country, thereby limiting availability of funds for water infrastructure projects at Kunzi, etc. On the basis of all these facts, it is very clear which party dies not have the interests of the people at heart.

  3. Prospective home owners paid large sums of money (in US$) to people ‘selling’ state land and none of these monies went to public works . The monies were all spent through personal consumption by the sellers…expensive cars etc. If these sums had been put to good use by installing clean water & sewer reticulation, this ancient disease epidemic would not have happened.

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