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Harare City Council deserves to be run by a commission

Opinion & Analysis
The grievances raised by residents have landed on deaf ears as responsible authorities have become impervious to the issues. They have developed a thick skin. The once sunshine city has become a pale shadow of itself where order is now a taboo.

IT was not long ago when the President Emmerson Mnangagwa appointed a special commission of inquiry   for Harare City Council chaired by respected former Deputy Chief Justice, Maphios Cheda. Many complaints have been raised by residents of Harare concerning poor service delivery, corruption at Town House, discourteous treatment by municipal police and indelicate handling by parking agents, among other issues.

The grievances raised by residents have landed on deaf ears as responsible authorities have become impervious to the issues. They have developed a thick skin. The once sunshine city has become a pale shadow of itself where order is now a taboo.

To begin with, service delivery has collapsed totally with heaps of garbage sprawled all over the city. The rubbish is a natural habitat for rodents with water bodies becoming breeding places for mosquitos, making them a hotspot for outbreaks of diseases like cholera, typhoid, dysentery, malaria and bilharzia.

Water and sanitation are now rare commodities and the problems are now perennial with no solution in sight despite leadership change. We have witnessed many mayors, town clerks and directors who enjoy huge perks at the helm of council but with nothing to offer. Some of them have been implicated in corruption, abuse of office and maladministration but they remain in office, aggravating the already miserable situation.

Why should we witness our city sinking at supersonic speed while we stand akimbo? Laying the blame on central government alone is mere tomfoolery as councillors and mayors are willy-nilly making shocking management decisions including even parcelling out uninhabitable land to prospective home-seekers.

The director of health at the City of Harare has made life miserable for medical practitioners by issuing unwanted and illegal restrictions to private practitioners. He unsuccessfully sought to monopolise the issuance of food handlers' certification to city council practitioners only yet the certificates can be signed by any registered medical practitioner as long as basic investigations to rule out infectious diseases are undertaken.

The bullying nature of the city officials should be investigated and the commission of inquiry should look into such issues of blatant violations of fair medical practice. For long, medical practitioners have been swindled of their hard-earned money by being forced to pay for what is called a “Health Certificate” yearly, a practice which is not supported by any law or statutory instrument of our country.

Doctors have been silently persecuted for a long time by city authorities who have used non-existent laws for self-aggrandisement. A city cannot run smoothly when the authorities are always at loggerheads with important stakeholders. We need better service delivery at Town House. Is a commission to run the affairs of Harare a better option?

The ill-treatment of vendors touched my heart one day when many of them, mostly women, were shoved onto a huge lorry with their wares randomly thrown onto the back of the truck.

The inconsiderate and iniquitous behaviour by council security officers is unpardonable. Vendors are trying to eke out a living by selling their commodities. We understand they may be selling at undesignated places but confiscating and destroying their goods is highly unethical.

It is common knowledge that some council security officers steal the wares to feed their families. Why does the country allow such inhumane acts to prevail, causing untold  suffering to citizens?

It is high time the Local Government ministry intervened without further delay. City Parking, Easy Park have been ruthless by wantonly clamping and towing away vehicles, inconveniencing many motorists, some of whom are caught in the melee.

The reprehensible behaviour by council officials should be investigated without fear or favour.

It is undeniable that our esteemed city has been run down by uncaring leaders who do not deserve one more minute in office. A commission may be better placed to deal with the contemporary issues bedevilling city council. This is the time for action.

Johannes Marisa is a medical practitioner who is the current president of the Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe

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