Tsverere vows to transform Chitungwiza town

CHITUNGWIZA - Chitungwiza's new mayor Gift Tsverere was yesterday sworn in at the council chambers.

Tsverere takes over from Philip Mutoti who was on numerous occasions suspended and arrested over allegations of corruption and mismanagement. Daily News reporter Helen Kadirire caught up with Tsverere.

Below are excerpts of the interview

Q: Can I have a brief background of Gift Tsverere’s life and qualifications.
A: I am 45-year-old research specialist who is a holder of BSc Honours degree in Development studies from Bindura University.
At Bindura University I was the Student Representative Council president. After finishing at Bindura I worked for Econet Wireless before leaving for the United Kingdom in 2008 where I studied for and attained my Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Practice from University of Greenwich.
In between my school breaks I worked as a relief teacher at Seke 3 and 5 High schools.
Following my return in 2012 I returned to work for Econet’s subsidiary Highlife Foundation but later left for South Africa in 2013 to work as a research assistant with the African Democratic Institute (ADI).
While at ADI I worked on a number of pro-democracy projects in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Senegal and other African countries.

Q: When did you begin your career in politics?
A: I joined the MDC in 2006 at branch level and rose through the ranks to the provincial council.
Currently, I am the provincial secretary for policy and research, an area that I know I will add value to. In 2013 I applied to contest as legislator for Chitungwiza South but lost the by-election to Canisio Makururu.

Q: What are some of the challenges that Chitungwiza is facing?
A: It is facing a lot of problems but the major one is of infrastructure. This new term councillors will have to address the infrastructure challenges of the town such as repairing and maintaining roads, rehabilitating the water and sewer lines, provide electricity and also improve the healthcare services of the town.
The reason why we are going to focus on infrastructure more is that you cannot attract investors when there is no infrastructure.
You cannot call investors to come and invest in Chitungwiza when there is no running water.
Manufacturing companies need water to manufacture and they need electricity to operate. So that is what we will focus on.

Q: How are you going to fix the healthcare challenges of Chitungwiza?
A: In Chitungwiza we have very few medical facilities. We only have one major hospital and four poly-clinics to cater for a population of 356 800 people.
There is only one other private hospital.
So you can see that there is pressure on those limited resources. We need to minimise that pressure on those resources. The population growth of Chitungwiza is like every other African country and we need to look into ways of relieving that pressure.

Q: With Chitungwiza’s ever growing population other facilities such as schools are also suffering, how will you fix that?
A: As a matter of urgency we need to look into the town’s Master Plan and find ways of growing the town into neighbouring areas like Manyame which are not expanding at the same rate as us.
The limited resources can no longer contain our population. We have about 60 000 school-going children who are serviced by 29 primary and secondary schools.
This results in a very high teacher pupil ratio of 1:60 which is not recommended.

Q: Chitungwiza has one of the biggest planning headaches in the form of informal settlements, how are you going to fix that?
A: Looking at our economy there is no way that we are going to demolish those structures. The only way forward is to incorporate them into the city’s plans and regularise them by providing social services.
After that we will give the homeowners their title deeds so that they are secured. We do not want to repeat past errors of destroying structures.
For those who have been staying at council-rented accommodation we are going to ease on the four percent Estates duty imposed on residents for change of name on a house. For people to pay rates we have to provide services. If that happens and council gets revenue we will try to minimise all costs that burden the residents.

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