Councils must focus on service delivery

HARARE - Most local authorities in the country have been busy working on their budgets for 2019.

As reported elsewhere in this edition, Harare has presented a $472,2 million budget of which over 50 percent will be gobbled by salaries. Harare is not alone in this situation.

The Local Government ministry, however, stipulates that the service delivery-salaries ratio should stand at 70:30.

It appears all councils in the country read from the same book as their propensity to spend on issues other than service delivery is well-documented.

The smooth operations of local authorities can only be ensured if residents pay up, but unfortunately the state of the economy is not allowing this flexibility.

Things are just not adding up and residents are finding it difficult to meet councils’ expectations, thus take advantage of discounts currently on offer.

Besides, in most council areas, residents do not see the value of paying for water which they receive only once a week and have to queue at boreholes days on end.

It appears, however, councils themselves have not been meeting their part of the bargain. Water cuts are too frequent, while infrastructure has not been rehabilitated for years, resulting in thousands of litres of treated water being lost.

Other services like refuse collection and solid waste disposal are also in shambles. Uncollected garbage is piling up in most suburbs, while sewer bursts 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.

In such situations, residents may not be blamed for thinking that whatever they pay is going down the drain since there is little evidence of service on the ground.

To make matters worse, local authorities’ top brass has been routinely blamed for stuffing their pockets with funds meant for service delivery, evidenced by the posh cars they drive around while residents struggle to make ends meet.

It is important for councils to ensure that they deliver service to residents who will in turn see the value of paying their bills.  iscounts will obviously hurt council books but residents can not help warming up to these in such difficult times, especially when they know they are paying for services that are not rendered as efficiently as they would expect.

Residents continue accruing debts because councils are failing to deliver on their mandate. 

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