Urbanites suffer poor service delivery, high rates 

Source: Urbanites suffer poor service delivery, high rates | The Herald

Urbanites suffer poor service delivery, high rates

Herald Reporters

Urban residents countrywide have bemoaned the appalling service delivery under the watch of corrupt and incompetent opposition officials, who wantonly hike rates and tariffs, but fail to provide the matching services that these rates are supposed to fund.

Urban councils have increased their rates drastically for this year, much to the disappointment of residents who say while they have been religiously paying, the services have been deteriorating in the last 20 years when the MDC-aligned parties started running councils.

Zanu PF is now campaigning hard and offering voters an alternative in the March 26 council and National Assembly by-elections.

Kariba Municipality increased rates and tariffs six-fold in two jumps over six months while Kwekwe pushed its rates upwards five-fold.

Harare hiked penalties by at least 400 percent, but while those can be avoided it also increased the compulsory rates and service charges by 67 percent in low-density areas and 37,5 percent in high-density areas.

Zimbabwe Combined Residents’ Association president, Mr McSteven Nyabvure, said it was unfortunate that most urban councils were increasing rates while services remained poor.

“It is foolish for the urban councils to continue increasing rates when they are failing to provide the services,” he said.

“At the same time, residents are struggling to pay the rates that they want. We would wish that elected councillors be on the side of the residents, but the corrupt opposition councillors always side with council officials.”

Harare Residents’ Trust director, Mr Precious Shumba, said residents were disgruntled by the performance of local authorities.

“Corruption by officials and councillors is affecting service delivery more than anything else. Councillors are blaming it on the central Government, but when they have the opportunity to craft the budget they connive against residents,” he said.

Combined Harare Residents’ Association programmes manager, Mr Reuben Akili, said since the city’s budget came into effect, service delivery has nose dived.

“Over the past month there has been a serious decline in terms of service delivery. The city has a big challenge in terms of social service delivery. There have been heaps of uncollected garbage in the city centre. As residents we need to pay for services rendered, but not being coerced to pay for services which we are not receiving,” he said.

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association secretary Mr Thembelani Dube said the services being offered by councils do not tally with the level of rates being charged.

“Rates are a burden considering poor services being offered. Roads are in a bad state, sewage is flowing all over and we receive erratic water supplies.

“The new parking fees introduced by Bulawayo City Council in partnership with Tendy Three International will see the majority of motorists failing to pay the required US$1 for 30 minutes,” he said.

Chitungwiza Progressive Residents Association secretary general Mr Gift Kurupati said the rates being charged were “worrisome”.

“Water is billed monthly yet as residents we receive it once a week translating to only four times a month. Roads are hardly trafficable,” he said.

In Kariba, rates and tariffs shot up six-fold in the last three months, raising the ire of residents who feel the increase is too steep.

On average, a household is now getting bills of around $12 000 from as little as $2 000 in October and residents have accused council of being insensitive.

Rates were increased by around 280 percent in October through a supplementary budget triggered by Zesa electricity disconnections for a then outstanding bill of around $30 million.

A collection blitz and disconnections was effected to push residents to pay their outstanding bills as council sought to raise $4 million every month to offset the debt.

Kariba Incorporated Area Residents and Ratepayers Association chairperson Mr Samu Mawawo said: “We did not agree with the figures that were proposed to us during the consultation process but they (council) went ahead and imposed their will on residents.”

Kwekwe residents are also furious after tariffs were reviewed upwards five fold. Business and residents said they were shocked to receive huge bills this month without any prior formal communication.

“I used to pay around $3 000 per month but I was shocked to receive a bill of $24 620 this week. When I went to Town House, that’s when I was told that they have reviewed the tariff charges by over 500 percent,” said Mr Robert Tadiwa of Mbizo 9.

Another resident, Mrs Samukelisiwe Shoko of Mbizo section 11, said she recently received a shocking water bill.

Worryingly, the bills were based on estimates, said Mrs Shoko, rather than on what a household actually uses.

“There are no meter readers and we are just charged based on estimates, so we can easily contest these shocking bills, which they are sending us.

“They should install water meters first and charge us actual bills rather than this nonsense,” she said.

Mr Jephias Makoni of Mbizo 15 said his area had not been receiving water for years, yet he was receiving “outrageous” water bills.

Marondera Progressive Residents and Ratepayers Association Mr Godwin Munjoma said the issue of service delivery has been a challenge for a long time now, despite increases in rates and tariffs.

“Looking at the current situation of Marondera, no significant change has been recorded so far in terms of service delivery,” he said.

“However, as Marondera Progressive Residents and Ratepayers Association, we are closely monitoring council performance especially in the coming months because we expect revenue to increase and service delivery should also improve.

“The rates are indeed high and it is sad that not many of us can afford to pay up. It is sad that residents will continue to carry the burden and as a residents association, we are saying we want to see service delivery improving in correspondence to the increase. If this doesn’t happen we are going to take them to task.”

President Mnangagwa has been campaigning for his party candidates by asking residents to reject corrupt councils at the March 26 by-elections.

He said it was time that urbanites trusted Zanu PF once more to turnaround the mess in urban areas.

Already, the Zanu PF Government has brought some relief to motorists by repairing a growing number of local authority roads across the country.

While municipalities are supposed to maintain their own roads, the Government had to step in, first declaring urban roads a state of disaster to gain the legal authority to do so, and then starting the long catch-up of skipped maintenance.

In addition 16 municipalities received financial support to address water and sewage challenges that have not just degraded the quality of living but have exposed residents to water-borne diseases.