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Service delivery crisis: Welcome home Mr. President
Residents Association (CHRA)
December 07, 2011
The recent visit by the President of Zimbabwe to Chitungwiza has
exposed the huge gap that lies between the community and our leaders.
His Excellency, President Robert Mugabe lamented the state of service
delivery in Chitungwiza and Harare saying that it leaves a lot to
be desired as compared to how the two local authorities were during
his working days. This development has opened a can of worms which
has just but confirmed our reports and advocacy on the need to improve
the provision of rudimentary services whilst exposing how out of
touch with reality our leaders are. Basically, the argument behind
erratic service provision lies under the banner of bad governance
at both central and local authorities' level, exacerbated
by non responsive statutes like the urban councils act. We vividly
recall the statement made by President Mugabe in 1999 at a function
hosted by the Rural District Councils Association where he argued
that "participation is the involvement of people at every
level of decision making". Today, residents have become aliens
of their own local authorities whilst the Minister of Local Government
enjoys the playing field to himself. The continuous dismissal of
elected councilors is impacting negatively on service provision.
It is a matter of public knowledge, that the 2008 Cholera outbreak
was a result of gross financial mismanagement by the appointed commissions
which plunged the provision of social services into disarray at
the expense of residents' welfare. Having realized that our
President is not in touch with reality we present this open letter
seeks as a brief reflection of the current state of service delivery
in our communities.
On the first
of September this year, ZESA increased electricity tariffs by 31%
without consulting residents and industry as part of its stakeholder
base. This was done in contravention of the electricity act and
residents have since made it clear that they cannot afford the increase
despite the fact that it was categorically clear that there wasn't
going to be any improvement in terms of electricity supply. Our
communities have become dark cities, going for long hours without
electricity and this has adversely affected the environment and
poses a health threat because residents opt for firewood as an alternative
source of power.
water is erratic with some sections of Harare going for months without
water. We are concerned with the fact that Harare city council is
under pressure to supply water to other towns like Chitungwiza and
Norton let alone Harare. Unprotected water sources are now a second
option for sourcing water for domestic use. This has caused serious
health problems which have culminated in the current typhoid outbreak
in Dzivararekwa and other communities. Memories of how 4000 residents
died in 2008 are still fresh in our minds and if this issue is not
addressed urgently we might be heading for the same disaster as
in 2008. The city of Harare needs about 1400 mega liters of water
a day yet the city is only providing about 500 mega liters a day.
This is unacceptable and a violation of our fundamental socio-economic
rights. Mr. President we demand water from our taps.
Our public infrastructure
is in shambles. Public toilets in Harare do not cater for the disabled.
The way they are structured does not allow for the physically handicapped
people to use without any challenges despite their polluted state.
Driving in the roads of Harare is a horrendous experience as you
experienced in Chitungwiza. Roads leading to most of the southern
suburbs are heavily potholed and this has led to many accidents
especially in this rain season. Roads in communities have become
unusable which has had a negative effect to the operation of the
public transport network.
resuscitation of refuse collection in our communities, undesignated
dumpsites have come back on the scene again and this poses health
risks to residents. The typhoid cases which were reported in December
2009 in Mabvuku were traced to the existence of garbage dumpsites
in the area. There is a need for the City of Harare to procure additional
refuse collection trucks and revamp controlled tipping in order
to get rid of indiscriminate disposal of refuse.
At least 1.1
million residents are on the housing waiting list in search of a
stand to construct a house. However, many residents especially those
that were affected by operation Murambatsvina are still living without
proper housing. CHRA is deeply concerned with the corruption that
has stalled progress in the provision of housing services; a situation
that is being worsened by some political bigwigs who are accumulating
housing stands through unscrupulous means. Mr. President some of
your people are leaving in shacks and are in urgent need of land
and housing especially in this rain season.
We hope that
Mr President you will put to task our Ministers concerned to actively
address the day to day challenges facing residents in Harare. We
urge your honorable office to amplify the voice of residents on
the need to constitutionalize local government as this is a good
step towards addressing some of these challenges. Stakeholders in
local government have been calling on local government to be enshrined
in the constitution as will ensure that treasury can directly fund
local authorities for them to put up with the provision of these
basic services. Local authorities do not have enough funding to
sustain service delivery and this has seen them loading the burden
on the shoulders of residents heavily billing them in order to sustain
operations. The continuous interference of Minister Chombo in the
running of affairs in local authorities is also a clear stumbling
block to effective service delivery. We urge you Mr. President to
stop this "unholy hand" in our local authorities. We
are of the view that the current revision of the Urban
Councils Act will bring sanity and also allow for residents
to participate fully and retain ownership of their respective local
authorities, a situation which will improve service provision.
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