Innocent Ruwende in Bulawayo
The country’s 32 urban local authorities require an investment of at least $2,3 billion in water, wastewater and solid waste management to ease water woes in most councils and to replace aged sewer infrastructure, which is contributing to outbreaks in water-borne diseases like cholera and typhoid.
Speaking at the Local Government Investment Conference (LOGIC) 2018 underway here, Town Clerks Forum chairperson and Chitungwiza Municipality town clerk Mr George Makunde said the financial requirements for each local authority vary depending on the scale and size of populations served.
“Harare continues to be the major city and remains attractive to rural migrants; yet it has continued to grow without adequate essential services. This has to be corrected through regionalism,” he said.
“Balanced urbanisation now requires provincial capitals to play a role as regional hubs in line with the devolution concept spelt out in Section 264 of the Constitution. Therefore, their capacities urgently need to be strengthened. The local economies must be given autonomy over their affairs.”
Mr Makunde said key development challenges that local authorities face are lack of affordable housing, attractive real estate for new investors at competitive rates, jobs, transport within and between cities, health services, reliable supply of clean water and electricity, sanitation and measures to reduce noise and pollution.
He said there is need for quality and affordable education, adequate recreation facilities, food security, telecommunications and climate change mitigation and adaptation mechanisms.
“These challenges present opportunities for investment, if embraced, there is much potential to create a multiplier effect of investments within the local authorities. Urban planning, in this case, must be fully financed to bring out plans that speak to the aspiration of various investors in harmony,” he said.
Zimbabwe Capital Connect, United Kingdom-based consultant Mr Maurice Dillion said attracting foreign investment requires that relaxation of corporate and investment restrictions/ taxation coupled with a secure environment.
“Being close to the UK Treasury, Zimbabwe Capital Connect believe that the UK Government will soon make export finance available for major projects involving materials from UK.
“The beauty of UK Export Finance is the very low interest rates when compared with commercial lending rates,” he said.
“Zimbabwe has enormous potential given its generous endowment of natural resources, an existing stock of public infrastructure, and comparatively well skilled human resources.
“However, realising this will require prompt action to correct fiscal policies, re-stabilise the monetary system, and resolve arrears to international lenders that would allow for a resumption of development financing.”