BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
URBAN councils have pleaded incapacitation, saying the tough macro-economic environment has eroded their budgets, crippling service delivery in the process.
In a speech read on his behalf at the ongoing Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ)’s 78th annual conference in Bulawayo, the association’s president Josiah Makombe yesterday said local authorities were struggling to keep afloat due to economic challenges.
“I wish to point out that councils are some of the institutions that have been hit heavily by the prevailing macro-economic environment. The prevailing macro-economic environment (has) completely eroded local authorities’ budgets and capacity to deliver effective services,” Makombe said.
The conference is running alongside the Local Government Investment Conference.
The southern African nation is currently going through serious economic turbulence coupled with high inflationary pressures, electricity shortages, foreign currency shortages and low production, among others.
“Residents and ratepayers have also been equally affected and have not been able to meet their obligations to councils. Water treatment chemicals, pumps and electric motors are proving to be a serious challenge for urban local authorities,” he said.
Makombe, who is the mayor of Gweru, said urban local authorities’ service delivery had also been affected by the escalating power outages. “The power outages are affecting mostly water pumping capacity as well as waste water reticulation,” he said.
The three-day twin conferences are running under the theme Urban Local Authorities: Enhancing Devolution Towards Attaining Vision 2030 and seek to create a dialogue platform between local authorities, government and other stakeholders.
The conferences also seek to clarify provisions of devolution and its implementation plan, proffer solutions to challenges affecting service delivery at local authority level and market the councils for investment by local and international investors.