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  • Crisis Report - Issue 230
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
    October 18, 2013

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    Stakeholders plan service delivery charter for Harare

    Various stakeholders are mooting the idea of a service delivery charter for the city of Harare to map the mutual responsibilities of council authorities and city dwellers in improving the formerly glamorous and now lackluster ‘Sunshine City’.

    The latest discussions were held on October 16 when the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) organized a National Residents’ Conference at the Jameson Hotel where the residents’ representatives, Civil Society, and elected officials of the city council discussed the possibility and importance of coming up with such a Charter.

    Mehluli Dube of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CIZC) clarified what a social service delivery charter meant.

    “It is a document produced through mutual understanding and through agreements,” Dube said. “This could be a written and agreed pact which sets out the partners’ roles and responsibilities in improving performance and fast track the delivery of social services.

    “This is a means of improving the livelihoods of people.”

    Dube said the Charter could improve the participation of citizens in matters of governance as envisaged in the new Constitution. The idea of service delivery charters has proved successful in neighbouring South Africa’s municipalities, primarily “because citizens know how services are to be delivered,” he said.

    Citizens would have to engage in peaceful demonstrations provided for in the new Constitution of Zimbabwe to pressurize authorities to adhere to better social service delivery standards, Dube said, adding that for the idea of social service delivery charters to gain national appeal they must be crafted in other cities.

    The meeting also heard that there are a lot of examples of service delivery charters on the continent, and mentioned examples included municipalities in Ghana and Kenya.

    Shingirai Mushamba, a facilitator at the meeting, said stipulations in a service delivery charter would include the agreeable time between application by residents for, and delivery of services. He cited such services as water and electricity connections, approval of housing plans, plugging of water and sewerage leakages, and removal of dead dogs and other pets from public places such as in roads. One resident who spoke at the meeting said there were many challenges that the council, perhaps through a service delivery charter, needed to see through the viewpoint of residents, including sensitivity in council by laws on how residents earn their bread and butter.

    “The council agrees that unemployment is a major problem in the city,” the resident argued, “and informal business is one way of earning income.

    “We need proper design for some more market stalls, not to put these behind toilets.

    “Those are the mindsets that the local authorities need to change.”

    Frank Mphalo of Transparency International - Zimbabwe (TIZ) said the idea of a service delivery charter, or “integrity pact” was relevant in the public fight for transparency, against corruption, but urged those pushing for the idea to tackle lack of political will among local government officials. “The political will is one of the most important things that are needed for a service charter to be successful,” Mphalo said. “Do the leaders we have buy into the process?”

    Francis Duri, the director of Urban Council Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) said the issue of service delivery standards was not new in Zimbabwe. Duri said in the past, central government through the Ministry of Local Government introduced a practice where council budgets would be submitted with a certificate of no objection, or the objections gathered from residents to foster public participation. This showed some political will, he added.

    Duri noted that there was need for coordinated efforts among those various stakeholders in favour of the Charter.

    “What I have seen is that there is a lot of individual work among organisations,” Duri argued. “And this fragments the implementation process, and that fragmentation results in slow progress.

    “I think as an organized mass we are better placed to achieve greater benefits for the communities.”

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