Local authorities cleansing crucial
THE cleansing of local authorities, whose top officials have for a very long time been accused of being self-centred at the expense of service delivery in their areas of jurisdiction, should continue in an effort to ensure the residents — who pay through the nose for the services — ultimately benefit.
Since the start of the year, there has been a police blitz against public figures in local government authorities who have been arrested for various reasons related to graft involving land and tender processes. The latest police raid was Chitungwiza Municipality on Thursday were 33 councillors and officials were rounded up.
In Harare, former Harare mayor Herbert Gomba was arrested in June for alleged abuse of office and selling council land, while his successor Jacob Mafume is currently in custody following his arrest for allegedly exerting pressure on council officials to allocate residential stands to his sister and a work colleague.
The city’s directors of housing and social development as well as human resources have pending cases involving illicit land deals. Generally, local authorities in Zimbabwe have been blamed for poor service delivery, which is not consistent with the obscene salaries and perks council officials pay themselves.
Residents, as a result, do not see the value of paying for services, including water — which they only receive intermittently and have to queue at malfunctioning boreholes days on end.
It appears, however, councils have not been meeting their part of the bargain as not only have water cuts been too frequent, but infrastructure has not been rehabilitated for years, resulting in thousands of litres of treated water being lost.
Potholes have become part and parcel of urban road networks, while services like refuse collection and solid waste disposal are also in shambles.
Uncollected garbage is piling up in most suburbs, while sewer blockages are the order of the day with council very lethargic in getting the problems fixed timely, forcing residents to endure the stench and risk of disease. There is no way residents can support profligacy when their own programmes continue to suffer.
The Local Government ministry should not watch while this happens. Council extravagance must be checked. Service delivery must be a top priority for local authorities and the residents who contribute significantly towards councils’ revenue must be satisfied with it and residents must not endure living with filth and dirt that councils have to manage.