Hundreds march in protest over poor service delivery

chra_logoHARARE - Hundreds of Harare residents took part in a street march Monday afternoon in protest over the deteriorating service delivery in the city, corruption and the tendency by the city fathers to spend lavishly on council directors at the expense of service delivery, among other grievances.

The march, which was organised by the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), began near the police caravan along First Street and proceeded to Town House where the marchers presented a petition to Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda’s office. They were then addressed by the deputy mayor Emmanuel Chiroto who promised to look into their grievances.

The residents want the city fathers to stop purchasing expensive vehicles for officials and redirect such revenue towards the resuscitation of service delivery. The residents are also demanding a review of the astronomical rates that they are being charged, in some instances for no service delivered at all.

They also feel the high rates being charged for service delivery do not reflect the prevailing socio-economic environment where the greater majority of the city dwellers lost their savings and sources of income through hyper inflation and government’s controversial Operation Murambatsvina, which left 700 000 Zimbabweans homeless, according to the UN.

The residents are also frustrated by the failure by the city fathers to consult them in drawing the 2009 budget which they say was largely biased towards remunerating its workforce with little remaining to cater for service delivery. “The residents have not been allowed the opportunity to input on what has got to be done relating to their wards. We do not know the master plan of the city of Harare to see if they are in compliance with their roadmap,” said Farai Barnabas Mangodzo, CHRA CEO.

He added, “Given the hard economic environment that we have, the generality of the residents are poor, they are the people that lost out on their savings which were in Zimbabwe dollars. “Linked to that, they do not have any income as they were surviving on collecting rents from their tenants before their structures were demolished during the 2005 Operation Murambatsvina. “So we feel the rates that they are being charged are beyond their means and this includes those who are in formal employment and are earning as little as US$150 per month.”

The residents also want Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo to stop interfering with the affairs of council in the process blocking moves to stamp out corruption by officials linked to his Zanu PF party. In its petition, CHRA wants the MDC run Harare council must to urgently review the rates downwards to levels which CHRA said were advised by the residents during the 2009 budget formulation consultation process.

“The council must ensure that there is an improvement in service delivery in terms of clean water supplies, refuse collection and street lighting,” reads the petition. The residents’ body has threatened a boycott of rates if council does not heed their demands.

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