It is really a very simple principle: one pays for a service they receive.
Tendai Ruben Mbofana
The opposite is equally true: where there is no satisfactory service, one does not pay.
This logic can not be more relevant as it pertains to the dismal and appalling service delivery being experienced all across Zimbabwe’s urban areas.
This is particularly so in my small town of Redcliff.
To say that I am thoroughly disappointed with the manner in which we are being mistreated and abused by our local authority would be the understatement of the century.
How else am i expected to feel when we have gone for nearly three years without any significant potable water in our homes?
Who, in their normal senses, would tolerate such objectionable violation of our constitutional right to water, as enshrined in section 77 – which states: every person has the right to safe, clean, and potable water?
Yet, some of us are making huge sacrifices under the most unforgiving and unbearable economic challenges as we faithfully pay the demanded bills, in spite of the absence of any meaningful service.
This is regardless of a long list of unfulfilled promises to address the crisis that has been persisting for years.
The question then becomes: why do we bother loyally paying for a service that is seldom delivered?
The local authority – as others crossing the width and breadth of the country – is never short of excuses and explanations (each more ridiculous than the last).
We have been repeatedly told of outstanding bills and debts – both by residents and the corporate (private and public) sector.
We have heard how the town owes the nearby city of Kwekwe – from where Redcliff procures its water – huge amounts in unmet payments.
We have also been told how outdated and broken down pumping equipment has been a major menace.
Each time, there has to be a reason we are not getting the life-giving liquid.
These may sound all plausible!
However, this brings up an even bigger question.
As there does not appear to be a solution in sight – what with all these excuses – why should those of us who have been faithful continue paying?
In fact, where is the hard-earned money we are parting with every month being channelled?
Are we surely expected to keep paying for no apparent benefit?
Would that not render us foolish mugs and nitwits?
If anything, our town fathers and mothers are never short of the best life – all, obviously, thanks to our payments.
That does not seem fair now, does it?
It gets even worse!
Numerous times, residents have been informed of various deals entered into by the municipality to clear outstanding bills with the city of Kwekwe.
This has included the sale of land – notwithstanding a ministry of local government directive to municipalities to desist from utilizing land for recurrent expenditure.
Nonetheless, after the ‘deal’, there was never any water for Redcliff residents forthcoming.
As a matter of fact, shortly afterward, we were shocked to learn that the debt to Kwekwe had seemingly miraculously ballooned back.
It does not end there!
Repeated annual reports by the auditor-general have unearthed gross mismanagement, irregularities, and flouting of tender regulations by the Municipality of Redcliff.
The most horrifying being the sale of 21 hectares of land to Livetouch Investments, to the staggering tune of US$847,962 in exchange for vehicles!
The auditor-general was clearly repulsed by the brazen violation of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act
Not only did the sale not go to tender, but as Livetouch Investments was into chrome processing, and not a vehicle supplier, the entire deal was seriously flawed.
What were those vehicles our local authority exchanged for an asset as invaluable as land?
Four Toyota Hilux, one Toyota Fortuner GD6, Toyota 18-seater bus, one Backhoe loader, five Nissan NP300 trucks, one Grader, one Skip bin loader, one Toyota Quantum ambulance, and a fire tender.
What caught my attention more than anything else, though, were the luxury cars that found their way into this deal!
These are for the enjoyment of top officials within the local authority, at the expense of residents and service delivery.
It gets even more shocking!
According to the report, some of the supposed service vehicles had not been delivered!
Yet, for reasons we can only speculate on – the luxury Toyota Fortuner GD6 was promptly made available!
Furthermore, on 31 August 2021, the local authority paid a mobile phone company using stands valued at US$13,348 for the purchase of mobile phones.
Are these people serious – selling our land in exchange for mobile phones?
Yet we do not have water in our homes?
We have gone for nearly three years being deprived of one of the most fundamental constitutional rights – in the midst of a devastating cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe.
However, our local authority can afford to purchase luxury vehicles and mobile phones for top officials.
Based on information I recently received, employees of the Municipality of Redcliff have not been paid their salaries for months.
The same excuses of the unavailability of funds have been cited.
All these underhand and possibly criminal activities by the local authority need to be thoroughly investigated and perpetrators brought to book.
We can not continue suffering in this way, whilst there are those reaping where they never sowed!
I am quite sure that, once exhaustive investigations have been instituted, much more devious acts – buried out of residents’ sight – will be unearthed.
We have heard of payments for roads that were never constructed.
I am convinced there are more vehicle and land scandals – outside the ones already reported by the auditor-general – which need proper scrutiny.
All that can be said for now is that it is time for those of us who have been religiously paying our bills to stop.
On what logic are we to pay for no discernible service?
Are we not simply financing the lavish, comfortable lifestyles of those at the top – whilst we ourselves suffer?
It is time our local authority provides the services we expect as residents.
Only then will we re-open our pockets.
Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit website: https://mbofanatendairuben.news.blog/