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Govt moves in to repair damage in urban councils

by Staff reporter
06 Mar 2022 at 08:26hrs | Views
IT is clear as day light that urban councils have been failing to fulfil their mandate for a long time.

The majority of towns and cities in the country have deteriorated in terms of infrastructure and service delivery, and the striking common denominator has been that most of these councils are led by councillors who belong to opposition political parties.

With MDC at the turn of the millennium, MDC T, MDC N, MDC Alliance and now Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), the efficiency graph has been on a downward trend.

And experts say the major causes of poor service delivery are councillors' interference, political manipulation, corruption, lack of accountability and transparency, inadequate citizen participation, poor human resource policy, failure to manage change (dynamics on technology and general living patterns), lack of employee capacity, poor planning, poor monitoring and evaluation.

Furthermore, councils have been blamed for failing to plan ahead in terms of infrastructure provision for water and other necessities as the population grows.

Urban councils have a constitutional mandate to superintend over their areas of jurisdiction.

The urban local authorities need to represent the people within their areas of influence.

In essence, they need to advance the aspirations of the people.

"Representing" implies acting in compliance with the directives or aspirations of the people.

This implies rule by the people, for the people, with the people.

Sub-section 2 of the Urban Councils Act bestows power to the registered voters of a particular urban area to choose the councillors who would preside over the developmental programmes of the area. (Mapuva Jephias and Takabika Tendai, 2020).

Residents have been complaining that the opposition has run down local councils for close to two decades, with roads now in a deplorable state, water rationing now a normality, street lights now a thing of the past, youth clubs in western suburbs now closed or dilapidated, sewage now flowing in the streets and into houses for lengthy periods in residential areas, garbage going uncollected for a long time, the housing waiting list has also been ballooning, and corruption and underhand dealings having grown to alarming levels.

In short, the quality of life in urban areas has deteriorated, and councils cannot escape the blame.

It is behind that background that central government has been heavily involved in efforts to improve the lives of people in urban areas through funding key projects for water and reticulation, roads and housing, among others.

Through Devolution Funds, a lot of ground has been covered across the country, with funding going further to build schools, roads, bridges, clinics and waste management infrastructure.

The government, through the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme is repairing roads across the country after years of neglect by local authorities.

In Bulawayo, the government, through the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) drilled and equipped ten boreholes at Epping Forest in Nyamandlovu.

The boreholes were identified as one of the short-term solutions to the perennial water challenges in the city. Furthermore, Lake Gwayi-Shangani is expected to be completed at the end of the year, with the construction of the pipeline underway, which is part of the bigger picture of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, which is regarded as the solutions to water problems in the region.

And the acceleration of the works came about after Government, led by President Mnangagwa took charge and poured in resources.

President Mnangagwa is on record as saying the New Dispensation took over the rehabilitation of roads in all urban councils after realising the opposition that was in charge had abandoned the people.

Addressing thousands of Zanu-PF supporters in Kwekwe last weekend, President Mnangagwa said the ruling party could not continue to fold arms when urban dwellers were being fleeced, and receiving a raw deal from the opposition, that has mutated into many factions over the years but still retaining its corruption streak.

"As the New Dispensation, we have said Zimbabwe can only be developed by Zimbabweans and Zimbabwe was brought about by Zanu-PF through a protracted war.

We could not continue to watch as the opposition, which has shown no care for the country and its people, continue to rundown our urban councils.

It's our country, they are our councils and this is why we have taken over the rehabilitation of roads through the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme," he said.

The President said for years, councils have been run-down by the opposition, adding that the electorate should now vote them out and bring back the councils to rightful owners for development purposes.

"Our councils, all the councils from Harare, Mutare, Kwekwe, Gweru, all are not in the hands of their owners and this is why there is no development.

But we have said each council should have a development programme, a country can only be built by its own people and this is why we are now hands-on," he said.

In Bulawayo, only Ward 28, which covers Cowdray Park has a Zanu-PF councillor, Kidwell Mujuru, who has been in office since March 2019 after winning a by-election.

Since then, there has been progress in service delivery and key infrastructure has been built, with more projects being implemented with Government funding.

"When I became Ward 28 councillor, in March 2019, I found a greater part of the suburb without water, mainly the Hlalani Kuhle area, where the Bulawayo City Council was demanding US$3 000 development levy fee for one to get connected to water, I fought very hard, until that figure was reduced to $300.

As we speak from zero percent, about 95 percent of Cowdray Park Hlalani Kuhle now has water connected to their houses.

When I came through as councillor no one was connected to water at all, we used to have community taps, where people were constantly vandalising these council properties, also taking the water to go construct their houses.

"As for sewer I found there was just one segment that was connected to sewer, with just 700 houses.

I am happy to say that we now have three segments that are now connected to sewer which is about 2000 houses, which is work in progress as more segments are being connected.

I also realised that the building of a bridge connecting the old Cowdray Park to the new Cowdray Park had stalled after for so many years.

I fought hard until I got  Devolution Funds from central government, which we used to construct the bridge and also a two-kilometre tarred road.

"As you know Cowdray Park, with its size has no hospital, instead there is a makeshift clinic.

I am happy to say that we are building a very big hospital with 60 beds at Empompini area, which will be completed by end of April.

There was also a school, Vulindlela Primary, which was left incomplete by the former councillor Collet Ndlovu, the construction of the school was stalled because of lack of funds but using  Devolution Funds we have completed about three blocks, and we have not stopped.

Already we have enrolled pupils for Grade Zero to Grade Six and they have started learning.

Devolution Funds have been very handy for Cowdray Park because we have managed to construct a lot of things that were left hanging and I would like to especially thank our President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the Second Republic for leading in this regard," said Cllr Mujuru in a recent interview, which showed the amount of work done in a short space of time with key support from central Government.

Source - The Sunday News
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