By Byron Mutingwende
The Harare Residents Trust (HRT) has made several engagements with the Ministry of Local Government, Public works and National Housing and there seems to be no consideration of residents’ needs, as it appears the calls are falling on deaf ears.
That emerged at a workshop held in Harare whereby residents met in order to come up with the position paper to present to the new Local Government, Public works and National Housing Minister Dr July Moyo. She highlighted the areas to be addressed so that we can present them to residents.
Precious Shumba, the HRT Director said the challenges that were faced by people during the Mugabe regime must come to an end.
The Mnangagwa regime promised they are a different regime from the Mugabe leadership. We want to organise demonstrations without the police coming to beat us. This will reflect the type of government we have. We want resident who act not those who only say things without actions. We must demand accountability from the service providers,” Shumba said.
“Our councillors are not our enemies. We must stop the system. The roads in low densities are being resurfaced without challenges but those in Glen View are potholed. We want to confront the system of inequality. As residents when the city of Harare Spokesperson comes to us and say water is clean when it’s not we must organise our communities and demonstrate our anger at council district offices. Fear must be removed from our communities. Mnangagwa promised us that his government is a new dispensation. All the criminals that are left to enjoy in the communities they must be arrested and send to prison. We need to show the Minister that we need our concerns to be addressed.
“The issue of huge salaries is now affecting service delivery. Now the Mayor of Harare is saying the salaries are too huge despite previously supporting the technocrats. There are councillors who are willing to work with the residents. Out of the current councillors we have only ten councillors who are responsible and want to work with the communities.”
MDC-T dominated councillors were blamed for sleeping on duty but Councillor Hami Madzingira of ward 10 and the late Ward Councillor Thomas Chineka was praised for his splendid work.
There were calls to engage Members of Parliament on the proper use of the Constituency Development fund being given to the Members of Parliament. The media was urged to increase their coverage of local government issues.
“The 60% of the water produced is being lost through illegal connections and leakages. We are being told there is no water every weekend but we heard there was $144 million loan facility to replace old water pipes.
The local District Administrator, a Mr Musemwa said recommendations must not stay on a paper but be complemented by action.
“We need to come up with a position paper that addresses issues affecting residents. In Harare we have seven council area offices. Some of the issues need the Head office to respond. In terms of service delivery we need sound local promotion of sound local governance. On arbitration we need the council representatives and the District Administrator. Arbitration is meant to enhance a corrupt-free system. We are trying to end the conflicts between residents and council so as to foster transparency and accountability,” Musemwa said.
The residents called for enhancement of frequency surveillance of hot spots on typhoid and cholera outbreaks in places like Mbare. It was also noted that it’s important to resuscitate and revive district civil protection committees and establish early warning systems sub-committees. The committees are going to be revamped since they were trained.
As a strategy on containing outbreaks, there was need to improve report writing so that they are attended to timeously.
The Harare Housing waiting list is dominated by thousands of people who exceed the carrying capacity of the city because the demand for space to build their homes is growing. Consequently this gives pressure to local government to distribute land to all residents who apply for stands.
Statistics highlights that, at the end of 2016 the housing waiting list had 212 734 applicants. The demand for housing continue to grow during the year under review as 34 834 new applicants registered on the housing waiting list. It is assumed that, every year the city of Harare receives thousands of people from all the four corners of Zimbabwe coming to the capital city to look for jobs.
The planning and land distribution must be given to city councils and the land must be serviced before residents are settled. Residents are using 300 square metre stands on which they use septic tanks and dip-wells which are a threat to health.
Wetlands must not be allocated to home-seekers. Politicians were urged to leave the land allocation responsibility to local authorities. Residents said the allocation of housing stands should prioritise those on the waiting list. There is need to set up a residents’ taskforce which monitors the distribution of residential stands to those on the waiting list. The issues of in-fills are causing blocked sewers. The government was urged to prioritise the building of flats since they accommodate more people.
The issue of land barons in Harare was described as atrocious. There is an outcry by people in many residential suburbs where hundreds of houses were razed down by city council for building houses on illegal spaces.
“As the human rights activists we are against the demolition of residential houses by City Council as this is unconstitutional because the Zimbabwean Constitution states that under section 74 Freedom from arbitrary eviction says, “No person may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances.”
“The most worrisome thing is that the land barons are left back into the community where they are found to be starting other projects of selling illegal land to more victims. Council should develop all land allocated to housing cooperatives. There must be accounts to be supervised by council employees and the issue of cooperative chairpersons must come to end. Land must be allocated according to residents’ income. Land developers must be recruited by councils,” HRT said.
HRT added that the continuous clashes between vendors and the police must be addressed in a manner that does not threaten the life of pedestrians.
“The vending currently going on is due to the economy that is not functioning so it is the responsibility of the leadership to make sure it is legalised and allocation of vending spaces is done without further delays. Vendors must be allocated vending spaces with sanitary facilities. The city of Harare must use their buildings to allocate vending space.
“The HRT will continue to engage with the Minister of Local Government to ensure that the citizen’s needs are met in an efficient and effective manner.”
There were sentiments that ghost workers within the City of Harare must be named and shamed.
Jessie Majome, the Harare West Member of Parliament expressed interest in service delivery issues.
“I always seek clarity on issue of service delivery. As Parliament, we make laws. We make sure taxpayers’ money is used appropriately and ensure that evgeryone respects the constitution. As Members’ of Parliament, we are not there to manage councilors. The Auditor General’s reports are inspected by the Members of Parliament. The issue of the Auditor General shows that there is mismanagement of funds in Zinara. 5% of the total national budget must be allocated to municipal councils. Provincial council must be put in place,” Majome said.