'Central govt must rescue struggling municipalities'

HARARE - Central government must rescue local authorities failing to supply residents with water to avert another humanitarian catastrophe.

Municipalities such as Chitungwiza, Epworth and Harare are  struggling to pay workers and deliver potable water to residents.

Diana Kuvheya, a Chitungwiza Residents Trust member, said government should come to the rescue of local authorities to prevent another cholera outbreak.

“After six  months of research, Chitungwiza Residents Trust has come to the conclusion that all the 92 local authorities in Zimbabwe, including Harare, Bulawayo and Chitungwiza, are technically insolvent following years of gross mismanagement and relentless pillaging by successive administrations,” Kuvheya told a stakeholder’s conference organised by Local Government, Public Works and National Housing minister, Ignatius Chombo.

“As a result of the gross mismanagement by office bearers, local councils have no realistic chance of recovering from their current state of bankruptcy until and unless there is deliberate external intervention by central government.”

According to most local authorities, including Harare, residents are not paying for services rendered.

Residents accuse the local authorities of corruptly mismanaging funds.

  “As we speak most local authorities are failing to pay workers’ salaries, failing to fund social amenities and service delivery, failing to finance capital projects and failing to service their debts because they are broke,” Kuvheya told Chombo.

Chombo said the problem could be addressed through legislative changes.

“Just push your MPs to advocate for that through Parliament and I will take it up,” he said.

Chitungwiza Town Council has been failing to provide water and basic services such as refuse collection and road maintenance due to lack of funds while the municipality’s workers are owed in excess of five months’ salaries.

Simbarashe Moyo, Combined Harare Residents’ Association chairperson, said while a number  of municipalities were insolvent, government should instead just subsidise service delivery and allow councils to be run professionally.

“It is a prudent idea to have such a move but we have to ensure that professionalism is there in councils. We should eradicate corruption and nepotism in our local governance structures,” Moyo said.

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