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‘Lockdown cripples councils’



BULAWAYO city councillors have bemoaned the crippling of service delivery by the COVID-19-induced lockdown restrictions, forcing it to go on auto-pilot.

The lockdown has also affected the holding of meetings which council says are usually characterised by robust debate to enhance service delivery.

On Wednesday, residents of Makokoba high-density suburb complained over the continuous flow of sewage from burst pipes into their homes, making them vulnerable to water-borne diseases.

This comes at a time council is struggling to render services, resulting in unattended sewer pipe bursts and uncollected garbage in the city centre and residential areas.

Mayor Solomon Mguni said the last time they had a full council meeting was on January 6.

“Committees had been set in December and in February full council will not proceed because there are no reports from standing committees to debate and consider. So we are just on auto-pilot. We will however, hold a virtual special council meeting on Friday,” Mguni said.

“The meeting will be to consider a report by the city engineer as regards the recommissioning of the three dams that we had decommissioned last year at the height of water shortages. We will get an appraisal on the dam levels and way forward in terms of our gradual easing of water-shedding,” he said, adding that they hoped that there would be no further extension of the lockdown after February 15 so that normal business could resume.

Kadoma mayor Action Nyamukondiwa also said the lockdown was affecting revenue inflow, leading to poor service delivery.

“Lockdown is heavily affecting the service delivery of councils. This is because we do not have places to buy the spares for city council cars which are used for service delivery. Most of the shops that sell these spares are closed,” Nyamukondiwa said.

“Lockdown has affected our revenue collection. This is because most of the companies and informal traders are not going to work. There are few revenue inflows because people have no money to pay for the rates.”

Gwanda mayor Njabulo Siziba said: “We have very limited staff who should be implementing council resolutions for fear of spreading the virus. There is also a problem of poor revenue inflows as business across the board is generally low.

“Councillors only meet virtually and in such meetings, discussions are generally not as robust as could be expected and so, in a way service is affected. But the biggest challenge though is the crippling of service delivery.”

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