Service delivery: Govt intervenes to bail out inept local authorities

People walk past uncollected garbage that has encroached on to a road in Mbare, Harare yesterday. The Harare City Council has failed to collect refuse for too long, exposing residents to health hazards. — Picture: Innocent Makawa

The Second Republic under President Mnangagwa is on a major drive to ensure all local authorities, regardless of who controls them, become functional and responsive to the public health as well as other basic needs of residents.

President Mnangagwa has intervened several times in urban authorities when the health and well-being of residents is at stake.

Urban authorities have a great deal of legal independence making it hard for Government intervention. But the central Government can intervene in an emergency and the Second Republic has used this provision when necessary.

The incredibly poor state of roads was declared a state of disaster, allowing the Government work on national highways and backing for rural roads to be extended to urban areas.

The health hazards of poor water supply and uncollected garbage in turn allowed the Presidential borehole programme, designed for rural villages, to be extended into Harare with a rig assigned to the worst-hit high density suburbs, and the Environmental Management Agency assigned to oversee garbage  collection.

Before the opposition took charge of most urban local authorities in the early 2000s, residents were guaranteed of quality service delivery that encompassed consistent refuse collection, availability of potable water and sewer reticulation among other basic services, but since the opposition took over the situation has been grim much to the disappointment of residents.

In most of these opposition-run local authorities, residents are paying their bills but they are not rendered the services paid for.

The local authorities’ incompetence has seen the emergence of diseases such as cholera and typhoid, which could have all been avoided had urban councils done their job by ensuring there were adequate water supplies, sewage was efficiently disposed of and by-laws on the sale of vegetables and other food were enforced.

Government has thus time and again intervened to bail out urban local authorities who repeatedly demonstrate their inability to ensure service delivery to areas under their jurisdiction.

Despite the opposition’s several mutations from being the MDC to the MDC Alliance and now the CCC, nothing has changed in terms of delivery of basic services to residents under its purview.

Harare City Council has even been bailed out by the Second Republic through payments for water treatment chemicals.

The Government, at the instigation of President Mnangagwa has since moved in and implemented measures such as the establishment of boreholes in urban areas so that the general citizenry is cushioned from opposition-run councils’ inadequacies.

“I am happy that the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works is now seized with this challenge of ensuring all our local authorities, regardless of who controls them, become functional and responsive to the public health needs of residents.

“We have lost enough lives already to hefty public health failures, which could have been prevented by the provision of efficient services and amenities. Government will not hesitate to intervene where local authorities show lacklustre performance, thus endangering our people.

“The same goes for uncollected garbage and broken sewer systems. In the absence of a drastic renovation of all our local authorities in the country, Zimbabwe will continue to suffer periodic outbreaks of preventable diseases, in spite of the many unused water bodies,” said President Mnangagwa recently.

Under the Second Republic, the provision of potable water and basic services has been a priority.

To this end, Government has been constructing dams across the country, availing funds through Treasury for the procurement of water purifying chemicals, establishing the domestication of production of water purifying chemicals and initiated the Presidential Borehole Drilling Scheme, all of which are set to address the people’s plight.

Various Government ministries and departments have also been at the forefront with the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services in conjunction with various ministries running awareness campaigns on how to prevent the spreading of cholera and the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works approved budgets that speak to WASH programmes.

Geo Pomona Pvt Ltd was granted approval on recycling of collected garbage and Government capacitated the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) to carry out solid waste collection and disposal as well as effect arrests of environmental violators.

In addition, CMED was capacitated to repair vehicles and rolling stock of the city of Harare, ZINGSA was assigned to identify wetlands and plan on how to move people, an urban renewal plan which aims to build flats in urban areas to address accommodation issues has been initiated and the upgrading of existing water treatment plants as well as the construction of new ones is underway.

An integrated urban renewal plan to install new water pipes in all suburbs is also being initiated under the Second Republic.

All these have been efforts instigated by President Mnangagwa’s administration to ensure the needs of the general citizenry are met.

Some non-governmental organisations aligned to the opposition have been under the illusion that it was Government that was failing to ensure service delivery yet it has always been the opposition which has been failing.

In an interview yesterday, Zimbabwe Combined Residents and Ratepayers Association (ZCORRA) president Mr McStephen Nyabvure said it was now evident that only the Second Republic could save the people from the urban councils’ shortcomings.

“It is very unfortunate that Hararians have had to endure decades of poor service delivery at the hands of city councillors mainly from the opposition parties since 2000. To date there has been no meaningful development and service delivery throughout Harare, we have seen piles and piles of uncollected garbage yet we also have a serious threat and outbreak of water-borne diseases, cholera and typhoid.

“We have also seen the sprouting of unplanned settlements on wetlands and other recreational places, some of which were approved by council like the Budiriro case where the people continue to face perennial floods and lives being lost.

“It is only reasonable for the Government of Zimbabwe to intervene and take control of areas being failed by the local authority in order to save the people from humanitarian crisis,” he said.

Chitungwiza Residents Municipal Workers’ Union president Mr Ephraim Katsinha also weighed in saying there was need for “thorough investigations” into opposition-run councils.

“There is nothing that is happening here and the situation is so bad that there needs to be thorough investigations into where the money is going because people are paying their bills but we do not see the money working to ensure service delivery for the people,” he said.

Mr Katsinha applauded the Second Republic for swooping in saying the issue of service delivery was now not about politics but delivering for the general citizenry.

“We need a serious council and I think it is very good that President Mnangagwa has directed his Government to move in because this issue is no longer just about politics now but about delivering for the people.

“If Government takes over local authorities it will be a very good move because we need the services like water and refuse collection because without these necessities we are prone to diseases like cholera that has been on the rise.

Environmentalist Ms Kundai Ngwena said the Second Republic’s show of commitment to deliver where the opposition-run councils were failing was welcome.

She said the provision of services would ensure that the environment is not only clean but diseases such as cholera and typhoid are kept at bay.

“President Mnangagwa and his Government have shown and continue to work on issues to do with the environment, they have shown commitment to improving service delivery.

“The issue of service delivery will go a long way in the proper disposing of litter through proper refuse collection because some people are willing to dispose their rubbish properly but the service delivery is lacking because they are not fully capacitated,” she said.

Chitungwiza resident Mr Luckson China said the prevailing lack of service delivery under opposition-run councils was nothing to smile about.

“I do not enjoy waking up every morning to seeing uncollected garbage at every turn, it is a real health hazard. When we were growing up things never used to be like this. There was proper refuse collection and availability of water but now the situation is dire.

“Some weeks back the President promised that his Government was going to intervene if the situation persisted and I applaud it because I do not see any way out other than Government intervention,” he said.

Herald

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