THE Combined Harare Residents Association (Chra) has expressed concern over the continued deterioration of service delivery in the capital. Chra, an umbrella body representing all residents
associations in Harare, said council service has declined sharply since acting mayor Sekesai Makwavarara took over from mayor Elias Mudzuri last year.
“Virtually all the capital’s infrastructure is in free fall. There are burst water pipes, raw sewerage flowing in the high-density residential streets, roads almost inaccessible because of potholes and decomposing mountains of refuse posing threats of disease outbreaks at the corners of the streets,” Chra said.
The city’s water purification system is crumbling, which has forced the local authority to switch off supplies to at least a third of the city over the past three months.
The CBD has become an eyesore as cleaners have virtually disappeared. Vendors have invaded First Street, once the jewel of the city centre, where they do their laundry and cook meals on shop fronts.
President Robert Mugabe this year appointed Witness Mangwende as governor to help administer the city. Mangwende advertised his presence by unleashing the military to clean the city.
Makwavarara, despite massive backing by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, has failed to justify her presence at Town House.
The Harare City Council has been in a state of turmoil since the days of former mayor Solomon Tawengwa who was dismissed in 1999 on allegations of mismanagement and corruption. The Elijah Chanakira commission, appointed to replace Tawengwa’s council, was widely criticised for compounding the chaos at Town House. The commission not only failed to improve service delivery, it could not produce audited books for the three years it was in office.
The popularly-elected Mudzuri council initially tried to revamp the city’s decaying infrastructure but he was stopped in his tracks by the negative intervention of Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo.
Chra said Makwavarara had completely failed and had the temerity to drop the stakeholders’ consultation system, resulting in council coming up with absurd rate increases.
“Council no longer consults residents on matters of budgeting as was the norm but simply imposes its views,” Chra said.
“Last year council was forced to revise its budget downwards because it had not followed the consultation process. Half the time Makwavarara has been fighting to keep her position instead of taking the city ahead through feedback from residents and responding to their concerns.”
Chra said the one-man band attitude which Makwavarara had adopted resulted in the city deteriorating further in both infrastructure and financial position.
“Council has been reported bankrupt on two occasions over the period Makwavarara has been acting mayor because residents have been refusing to recognise her, thereby holding back payment of rates, council’s main source of revenue.” Chra said.
Chra said Harare’s health delivery system had been thrown into disarray over the past year.
“Germany’s city of Munich suspended its cooperation with Harare citing unavailability of someone democratically elected by the people of Harare to take over the mayoral office,” Chra said.
“Suspension of the Munich partnership has closed prospects of both medical equipment and financial support that could have improved the situation at city council clinics.”