Govt to crack whip on errant councils

Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Government will crack the whip on local authorities that expose residents to unpleasant living conditions through failing to provide services such as water and sanitation, President Mnangagwa has said.

He said local authorities should make use of legal instruments at their disposal to mobilise resources to ensure the provision of services.

The Head of State and Government said this yesterday while addressing legislators, traditional leaders and senior Governments officials during a luncheon held by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing to mark the Second Session of the Ninth Parliament, which he had officially opened earlier on.

“I exhort local authorities to fully utilise the provisions of the Rural and Urban Councils Acts to mobilise adequate resources for service delivery,” said President Mnangagwa.

“The principal issue for creating local urban councils is to give service to the people. The current degenerating water and sanitation infrastructure in nearly all urban councils resulting in immense health risks to millions of our people cannot be allowed to continue.

“As central Government we will not stand by and watch our people being unduly exposed to despicable living conditions where councils fail to meet their duties and obligations. We need in future to craft legislation to deal with such councils.”

A fortnight ago, Harare City Council closed Morton Jaffray, the city’s water treatment plant after it failed to mobilise financial resources for chemicals.

This saw Government intervening with financial resources to save the situation after the MDC-Alliance council failed to procure chemicals despite collecting revenue from residence.

President Mnangagwa said Government has since put in place measures aimed at helping local authorities to ensure they provide decent services.

“To that end, Government recently put in place measures to capacitate the City of Harare to mitigate the current water crisis. We have also allocated funds to urban councils to deal with sanitation problems, a few councils have not submitted their requirements, those who have, we have allocated funds,” he said.

The President said the reform path Government had chosen towards the attainment of Vision 2030 required wholesome transformation of public service.

“Government is committed to updating pieces of legislation which will facilitate the modernisation of our local authorities in line with our national vision such as the Physical Planning Act, Provincial Councils and Administration Act, and the Architectural Act.

“Equally important is the need to relook at the local government legislation focusing on areas which relate to financial and resource mobilisation,” said President Mnangagwa.

He said Treasury disbursed $120 million to fund local authorities capital projects under the Inter-Government fiscal transfers window.

“This allocation will go a long way towards accelerating development and modernisation of our communities.

“Those communities and authorities who disburse their money faster will also be given faster. The ongoing reorganisation and re-engineering of local authorities must therefore enhance the capacity of local authorities to facilitate investment within their respective areas.

“This is envisaged to positively impact on both the provincial and national gross domestic product.

“Traditionally, councils have focused on the provision on the basic municipal services and not necessarily the promotion of business and investments,” said President Mnangagwa.

He said it was hoped that under the devolution thrust, the role of councils must systematically transform to respond to the new economic trajectory of the new order.

The transformation should see provincial economies becoming hubs for the revitalisation of the national economy, leveraging on the ward, district and provincial specific comparative advantages in those areas.

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