REPORTS that Local Government minister July Moyo has given Harare City Council the nod to fire non-performing executives and support staff make interesting reading indeed, given the level of rot that has permeated Town House.
We hope that Moyo will extend the same rod to other local authorities around the country as a way of promoting sustainability, accountability and inculcating a new work culture and ethic.
Similar efforts have often been frustrated through the country’s deep-seated culture of political patronage, where certain officials aligned to Zanu PF always enjoyed political cover, regardless of their failure to deliver.
There should be no sacred cow at Town House. Besides, we believe Moyo has an obligation to direct other local authorities throughout the country to fire non-performing and corrupt officials because residents deserve better.
It’s no secret that the local authority has been struggling to provide efficient services like health, water and sewer, partly due to non-performance by some of its employees who are paid to do nothing.
The recent cholera outbreak, which left at least 54 people dead and thousands infected, could have been avoided if Harare council managers and workers been up to the game.
Residents may recall that it takes days, and sometimes weeks, for council workers to respond to burst sewer and water pipes, and the buck stops with non-performing senior managers.
It is now a tradition that senior managers at Town House leave their jackets at their desks in the morning and go about their personal business the whole day, only to return to their offices at 4pm to knock off duty.
Harare workers are the highest paid in the country, with a security guard at the council’s Crowborough Farm earning over $900 per month compared to an average civil servant who gets a paltry $400.
City directors, on the other hand, are reportedly earning up to $10 000 per month. Why are they being paid such outrageous amounts at the expense of the poor ratepayers, yet they are doing absolutely nothing?
Indeed, we know that some of the managers and workers used to get political protection, but we challenge both the mayor and the minister to ensure that it is no longer business as usual at the local authority as residents and all the other ratepayers want to get value for their money.
Residents hunger for improved health services; they want access to clean water and a working sewer system. They also want regular collection of garbage and they dream of good roads which do not damage their vehicles.
In fact, city fathers should not only target non-performers, but also all those who are linked to corruption as they are diverting resources which should otherwise be used to improve service delivery.
A case in point was the purchase of expensive vehicles for senior managers, who diverted part of the $144 million Chinese loan meant for the refurbishment of Morton Jaffray Waterworks.
Until council works towards improved service delivery to the millions of ratepayers, we are not yet open for business. And we know the buck stops with Moyo, and he has no one but himself to blame if we don’t get improved service delivery this time around.