Each time residents of Harare or any other city complain about service delivery, the discussion turns political.
The majority of urban councils are MDC-led, but the executive is under the Zanu PF government. No matter how much the councillors may advocate for service delivery and improvements in social services, it is the experts who call the shots and they operate within the dictates of the ruling party. The sad part is nobody wants to be accountable to residents, who are the ratepayers, the lifeblood of the city. In most cases, the town clerk and his team will blame the mayor and other councillors, while the latter point to inertia by the city council executive when it comes to service provision.
In the case of the capital city, Harare City Council (HCC) also blames residents for not paying rates on time, but that is not to say that is their only revenue stream. Council left individuals to claim and run properties for personal gain while they watched from the sidelines. It has been widely reported that for years, one Jim Kunaka and some Zanu PF youths ran Carter House in Mbare like a private property. The same happened with the long distance bus terminus in the same suburb.
It is no secret that City of Harare owns buildings that house several big companies and recently and through the media residents discovered that many of Zesa operations are housed in HCC properties.
The city has clients like Old Mutual, who are developing infrastructure, the latest being the Eastgate Mall, now open for tenants.
Council also runs a city parking firm, collecting parking fees by the day, with parkades being leased on the long-term.
This is just but a snap view of how rich the City of Harare is, but unfortunately it seems to be always in the red for failure to collect what they are owed.
HCC cannot carry out refuse collection consistently and there is always the spectre of cholera in residential areas because of water shortages. HCC now rations water throughout the year and that is failure in terms of social service provision.
Now after the rains, grass is overgrown in most residential areas and alongside roads, posing a huge risk to motorists when they want to give way to vehicles with right of way, but cannot see clearly because of grass. Long grass is also posing a risk to pedestrians who risk being mugged, or worse still being knocked down by motorists because they also want to remain on the road.
March is women’s month and women and children want to feel safe in their environments.
Residents of Mt Pleasant Heights are complaining about the grass on Bannockburn Road, right from Marlborough Police Station through the suburb to the farms. May HCC, through the responsible district office, heed the call and deploy grass cutters, not just in that area, but elsewhere where grass is overgrown.
It is not good to be ready with excuses all the time, it is a sign of laxned management. Council must get certain things done. I am sure residents will pay their rates if council is up to the task of cleaning up the city and providing potable water.
May the sun shine on the city, Harare Drive