By Daniel Chigundu
The government has urged Harare City Council to ensure restoration of service provision and a return to law and order so that it becomes a model city in the country.
Harare City Council has been struggling with service provision since dollarisation in February 2009 and the subsequent writing off about US$335 million outstanding water bills by the government towards 2013 elections.
Water provision, garbage collection and road maintenance have been erratic as the city council has been claiming lack of adequate funds.
Addressing the media on following a meeting with Harare City Council, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National House George Magosvongwe said service provision must be taken seriously as it impacts on people’s lives.
“The focus was on water service provision and the need for Harare City to take this matter seriously because it impacts development and it impacts the living standards of people and it’s an obligation anyway that all local authorities must provide.
“At the apex of the local government matrix or pyramid is Harare City Council because it is the capital city, it mirrors the image of the country and it reflects the images of the others, the sum total of local authorities that we have.
“So we want Harare to be a model city that leads by example, so matters related to water provision which impact the health of the population of the country, matters related to planning you have seen the proliferation of illegal settlements, you have seen the breakdown of law and order, where land barons are taking matters into their own hands, you have seen the disorder created by so-called cooperatives and the kind of looting that has happened in the housing cooperatives sectors,” he said.
Magosvongwe added that cooperatives have brought a lot of unhappiness which has dent the image of the country, adding that “what we have been saying to Harare is lets restore law and order in relation to housing, in relation to industrial development , in relation to ownership of land and in relation to the rating system because that is the source of funding for all the services we must provide in relation to the licencing system, the shops, retails shops, factories etc they all attract a services so they must all pay licences.
“So at the end of the day we have been saying Harare must not just come back to its sunshine status, it must create a new culture that enables a futuristic vision to emerge so that we don’t sit on the 50 year plan we inherited from the colonialism but we have a futuristic plan for the development of the country as a whole visioning on the model that Harare will set.
“So at the day what we want is local authorities to discharge the function they are required to discharge in terms of existing legislation because they are services provider and they must guarantee the improved living standards for the people, otherwise they are not worth the ballot paper they were elected on…,” he said.
According to Harare Mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni, the city is being weighed down by a huge salary obligation that is almost taking all the money collected monthly.
Harare collects about US$12 million per month and pays salaries gobbles about US$10 million.
Manyenyeni also bemoans the lack of executive mayor and substantive Town clerk as some of the bottlenecks to move things at the Town House.
The issue of a substantive Town Clerk has dragged for so long owing to politics between city council and government, currently, Hatfield legislator Tapiwa Mashakada is the leading candidate to land the post.