THE latest bickering between the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) and the City of Harare has shown enough grounds for the ratepayers to question the credibility of institutions handling statutory finances and those that must be utilising them.
Citizens are not being respected yet they toil under the current economic hardships to meet their statutory obligations. But in return they have been getting a raw deal.
There is a blatant lack of accountability on the funds collected and disbursed. This comes after Zinara recently hit back at Harare mayor Jacob Mafume who claimed that the government entity was starving the cash-strapped local authority of funding to maintain its damaged road infrastructure.
Mafume blamed Zinara for allegedly collecting huge sums of money in vehicle licensing fees and yet disbursing a paltry amount for the council to maintain its potholed roads. This is after the government transferred the vehicle licensing portfolio from local authorities into the hands of Zinara. Responding to the Harare mayor, Zinara chief executive officer Nkosinathi Ncube accused Mafume of peddling falsehoods and grandstanding.
“Whilst we don’t want to respond to rhetoric, we feel duty bound to inform the nation with facts on certain inaccuracies. Firstly, we want to categorically state that Zinara has consistently disbursed funds for road rehabilitation and maintenance to all the Road Authorities, the City of Harare included.
“According to the dictates of the Roads Act, a Road Authority can only access a new disbursement from Zinara after acquitting its previous disbursement,” Ncube said.
Zinara also hit back, accusing City of Harare of failing to submit acquittals for money disbursed in 2020, resulting in the authority delaying the 2021 disbursement to the local authority. The continued bickering between the two authorities points to a situation of failure to be accountable while the masses suffer. It is appalling that the two authorities are playing the blame game when the welfare of the citizens of Zimbabwe is at stake. It is slowly becoming clear that the blame game might be a smokescreen to block citizens from demanding accountability at a time when various cities and towns are battling bad roads.
This is a sign of system failure which has been characteristic of the Central government and all local authorities across the country. Funds are disbursed but accountability has always been questionable.
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In the current state of affairs, it is difficult to identify who is telling the truth or if it has just been political posturing.
The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) recently castigated the blame game between the City of Harare and Zinara on road rehabilitation funds. The citizens have been religious in paying their Zinara licence fees but the benefit that comes with that act has failed to yield positive results. Rather, Zinara for years has been a gold mine for politicians, to milk easy money for personal benefit.
It is yet to be seen if the current Zinara board under the leadership of George Manyaya can be trusted. But as it is, both Zinara and City Council are suspects with a tainted past.