Councils must improve refuse management

HARARE - Waste management, especially the collection of garbage in Harare and other towns and cities such as Chitungwiza — as reported in our sister publication, the Daily News on Sunday — has become an issue of major concern.

While residents are doing all they can to pay for water and rates, city fathers have been found wanting with regards to the discharge of their mandate.

For example, nearly all the councils in Zimbabwe are struggling to collect garbage, thus exposing residents to diseases carried by flies and mosquitoes — creatures that thrive and breed in dirty environments.

Granted, councils are struggling to meet their overheads, including recurrent expenditure because of the economic meltdown, but that should never be used to justify their laissez-faire attitude towards service delivery.

After all, much of that recurrent expenditure is being funnelled towards salaries and other featherbeddings for their top executives, while residents are putting up with garbage in their environs, and going for weeks on end without water.

Local authorities must account for every penny they receive from ratepayers by providing satisfactory service, which includes timely collection of refuse as well as effective solid waste disposal.

With the Harare mayor, Bernard Manyenyeni, bemoaning the state of the capital city’s revenue collection versus expenditure — the bulk of which is not going towards service delivery as expected in ideal situations — it definitely calls for a rethink on the part of the city fathers and even government, to restore order at councils.

Today, Zimbabwe is full of stench with the capital Harare perhaps leading the whole pack in terms of the filth around its streets.

With the current woes bedevilling our councils, it is only a question of time before Zimbabwe cries out for assistance to contain a possible disease outbreak owing to situations the country can control on its own.

For the sake of Zimbabweans, local authorities must prioritise the collection of refuse, not only because of the risks this may pose to the population but also because cities must reflect the state of the country. Their cleanliness as well as focussed programmes aimed at improving situations there would help greatly.

Small local authorities such as Mvurwi are setting a good example by roping in residents who have formed teams that not only clean their neighbourhood, but also educate fellow residents on the need for tidy environments.

This is quite commendable and must be replicated across the width and breadth of the country.

It is not enough for councils to unleash debt collectors on residents, without them also playing their part in efficiently allocating scarce resources.

Zimbabwe’s towns and cities must put their houses in order to restore the confidence of ratepayers, who will obviously play their part once they are assured their money will be put to good use.

Once that happens, the restoration of Harare’s Sunshine City status would obviously be guaranteed.

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