'Local authorities have failed'

HARARE - Local authorities in Zimbabwe have failed to address the continuing decline in service delivery due to misplaced priorities and a lack of strategic direction, chairperson of the parliamentary committee on Local Government Irene Zindi said.

Speaking at a dialogue on service delivery organised by the Centre for Community Development Zimbabwe, (CCDZ) Zindi said there has been a growing concern of poor water and sewerage management and uncollected garbage.

Zindi said grave concerns have been raised by residents arguing that councils do not consult them on major developmental decisions to be made in wards.

“Another issue that is being raised is that of funding for local authorities. It is being pointed out that Zimbabwe is probably the only country that has self-funded local authorities. The absence of funding from central government has had a negative impact on service delivery by local authorities.

“Another concern raised was that rates being charged were not commensurate with the services rendered to residents,” she said.

Zindi also pointed out that policies adopted by government after 1980 were not being implemented to ensure effective service delivery was availed.

She said since the decentralisation of local authorities was adopted, it was not accompanied by a provision of adequate funding.

“According to the national housing policy, local authorities should make available land for housing development. In the past 15 years most local authorities have not constructed housing units and this is because they have not been receiving soft loans from the World Bank, USAID, and other non-governmental organisations.

“Our belief as a committee is that the devolution of authority, responsibility and accountability to the local levels of government is in the interests of effective delivery of basic services and development as well as deepening democracy,” she said.

Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Association director David Mutambirwa said corruption, nepotism and a lack of political will is slowly ruining the city.

Mutambirwa said elected MDC councillors were being sabotaged by loyalist Zanu PF municipal management, frustrating efforts of revitalising Mutare.

“The state of council houses is deplorable and not fit for human habitation. Shattered windows, broken doors and non-functioning communal toilets are the order of the day,” he said.

However, Lovemore Madhuku said it was useless to constantly refer to provisions of the Constitution and not implement them which creates problems.

The constitutional law expert said people should be content with the Constitution because theoretically they agreed to all its provisions.

“If we cannot implement our own provisions then we should just amend them. Constantly complaining about financial challenges should not arise every time something needs to be done,” Madhuku said.

CCDZ director Phillip Pasirayi said the meeting was part of his organisation and other non-state actors’ efforts to lobby for transparent, accountable and responsive local government institutions.

“Through these local government multi-stakeholder dialogue meetings they aim to bring together duty-bearers and residents to discuss about service delivery challenges across the country and to lobby for local government reforms and the operationalisation of Provincial Councils in line with the Constitution.”

“Stakeholders who attended the meeting agreed to demand the urgent operationalisation of the PCs in line with the Constitution. The Provincial Councils were elected in July 2013 but 3 years later they are still to be sworn in. This is undemocratic and the clearest indication that the government is not interested in devolution,” said Pasirayi.

He added that local government is the sphere or tier of government that is closer to the people. “It provides water, health, roads and as such it must be insulated from partisan politics or agendas. The meeting was part of CCDZ and other non-state actors’ efforts to lobby for transparent, accountable and responsive local government institutions.”

Comments (1)

Good work by CCDZ and resident associations to create these dialogue platforms with policy-makers to address social service delivery in the country. Civil society should pile pressure on duty-bearers for improved service delivery. There is too much corruption in local authorities, residents are being charged for non existing services.

Service delivery - 11 October 2015

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