Full residents' council meeting update

The Harare Residents’ Trust a residents’ movement has once again demonstrated its capacity to create a platform for residents’ leadership to discuss issues affecting Harare communities by successfully holding its fourth Full Residents’ Council (RC).

The meeting was held on Saturday 11 February 2012 at the Waterfalls District Office Community Hall. The Full RC brings together all the HRT residents’ committees in Harare suburbs whose chief responsibility is monitoring community service delivery and the performance of elected councillors. This is in line with the HRT objectives which focus on monitoring and auditing the performance of service providers for quality service provision.

The Full RC is an important component of the HRT which meets annually to seriously debate on community service delivery issues, make recommendations and resolutions on how to deal with issues affecting communities. The HRT has exhibited its grassroots approach in confronting the problems that Harare communities face in their interaction with community service providers and local government leaders.

There was the participation of residents’ committees from the following areas of Harare:

Harare East: Chizhanje, Mabvuku, Tafara and Kugarika Kushinga

Harare West: Kuwadzana Extension, Warren Park, Crowborough and Kuwadzana Phase 3

Harare South: Waterfalls, Shortson, Budiriro, Highfield, Mufakose, Geneva, Mbare, Joburg lines and Sunningdale

Among the participants was Mr. Cephas Zibute, the Councillor for Ward 23 (Waterfalls), a representative from Harare Water Department Mr Victor Chifamba, the Billing and Revenue Collection Manager stationed at Old Mutual Building, the Waterfalls District Officer Mr J Nyangwande, Constables Chikwekwenende and Mujuru from Waterfalls Police Public Relations Department and Inspector Sibanda, the Officer in Charge at Waterfalls Police Station. The major issues of presentations and discussions with proposals, recommendations and resolutions are explored in this update.

1. RC Executive Chairperson Presentation

The Chairperson of the RC (Tafara), made a presentation at the meeting represented by Tafara Residents’ Committee Chairperson, Reverend Onismo Mushonga. The following issues came out of the presentation:

a. Public meetings with the thrust of raising community awareness on their rights were held in Tafara, Mabvuku, Glen Norah, Kuwadzana Extension, Geneva and Highfield. He expressed concern with the delays by the police in issuing clearances for community meetings.

b. The 25 June 2011 Annual Convention at Mbare Netball complex which brought close to 2500 residents from across Harare to discuss service delivery issues was a major achievement in boosting confidence in residents on issues pertaining to service delivery. The objective was achieved despite the disruption that occurred towards the end of the meeting, caused by identified Zanu PF youths commonly known as Chipangano who stole t-shirts and money, and beat up residents, and the HRT Director.

c. Community service delivery remains bad but the RC has been engaging service providers with the secretariat and Board on how community services such as water, refuse collection and housing can be improved. Engagement will remain a key strategy in responding to the problem residents’ face.

d. The RC intends to work together with all community coordinators to establish committees in all suburbs. It is the vision of the RC to see all residents’ leaders confronting issues affecting their communities through petitions, demonstrations and other social mobilization tools.

e. Public meetings, Focus Group Discussions and other activities will continue to be used as a mode of mobilizing more members for the HRT.

f. Community leaders should become genuine in holding positions of leadership in communities.

2. Harare Water Presentation: Mr Victor Chifamba the Billing and Revenue Collection Manager made a brief presentation of water issues in Harare. He highlighted the following:

a. Accurate billing of water supplies has been a problem because most meters in residential areas are stuck. Council has embarked on an exercise to replace meters in Eastern suburbs such as Tafara and Mabvuku and it is estimated that all households with problems associated with stuck meters will be addressed by June 2012.

b. Harare Water is drawn from a contaminated catchment area as it flows from the city but it is safe to drink by all health standards.

c. Council has a comprehensive five year plan to address water shortages. This includes the rehabilitation of existing water infrastructure and the construction of Kunzvi Dam.

d. For households with nonfunctioning water meters, council bases its billing on the historical consumption of water by the household.

3. RC Treasury Report

The RC Treasury Report was given by a representative of Shortson (RC Treasury) Mr Amatus Rwazemba. He gave the breakdown of the contributions from the suburban structures in the RC Treasury. It was recommended that the suburban structures agree to come up with strategies on how they can fundraise for the HRT.

4. Police Presentation: Constable Chikwekwenende acknowledged that there are several reports pointing to police corruption. Residents were urged to report corruption cases at the police complaints desks found at various police stations or approach the officers in charge of the respective police station. She said that complaints against the police can also be channeled through the ZRP suggestion boxes in the communities. Residents can request that police officers be deployed in their respective residential areas to assist at crossing points for school children.

5. Councillor Presentation: Councilor Cephas Zibute of Ward 23 said that residents should understand how council responds to the problems of communities. He said that issues can be raised by residents then they go to councillors and are debated initially during council committee meetings then in the full council meeting. He advised residents to come to his office if they have problems with council services and other community issues.

6. HRT Director Presentation: Mr Precious Shumba, the Founder and Director of the HRT made a presentation on the program thrust of the organization for the year 2012. The following key issues were noted in his presentation:

a. The residents of Harare are the HRT and without the residents, the organization ceases to exist.

b. The HRT is a non partisan residents’ organization which deals with service delivery concerns and problems. Residents’ leaders in the HRT community leadership structures are urged to strictly focus on residents issues and avoid meddling in party political issues. This helps to avoid losing direction in HRT advocacy.

c. HRT Community leaders have shown that they require capacity building so that they are able to function well in their mandate. Training sessions are lined up for the community leaders. The trainings will also focus on the roles and responsibilities of the HRT residents’ committees.

d. The HRT should win the hearts and minds of the residents of Harare by working towards achievement of measurable results such as improvements in housing delivery, water supplies, sewerage reticulation and refuse collection.

e. Elected councillors have failed to represent the interests of the residents in their wards and the HRT will not apologize if councilors are named and shamed due to incompetence regardless of their political affiliation.

f. The HRT now has an Advocacy and Communications department which is responsible for speaking out and engaging service providers on community problems related to service provision. The department however relies on evidence based advocacy and does not speculate on issues affecting residents.

g. Activities lined up for the HRT are: Focus group discussions, public meetings, leadership training meetings, clean up campaigns, choral competitions, soccer and netball competitions, prayer rallies, a cultural festival and an Annual Convention. The HRT will also come up with other strategies on community mobilization.

7. HRT Women movement: Mrs. Constance Shumba, the HRT co-founder said that as service delivery is bad, women are the most affected persons in the communities as they are responsible for household chores. She said that the HRT has started a women’s movement that will focus on women empowerment within the work of the HRT. She said that only women who are HRT members will participate in the movement. She urged the men present to encourage their wives to join the movement in order to realize its full benefits. Competitions in baking, sewing and women soccer will be initiated as a viable platform for community mobilisation.

8. Suburban Reports: The represent suburban structures tabled their reports at the meeting. Each residents’ committee received reports from other communities on the state of service delivery, through a bound volume of reports. Residents’ leaders at the meeting expressed concern with the following issues:

i. Billing system;

ii. Water shortages;

iii. Power outages;

iv. Bad road network;

v. Poor health and;

vi. Education services.

9. Suggestions, recommendations and resolutions :

 The meeting suggested that councilors must be negotiating terms of payment for residents. There was heated debate on the issue of payment plans with residents committees arguing that negotiating payment plans should be very specific as there is also the issue of accumulated debts due to the transition from the Zimbabwean dollar to the United States dollar which was poorly managed in February 2009.

 Residents’ debts should be scrapped off to make bills affordable covering February 2009 to December 2010, with debt starting in January 2011 to be fully paid.

 Payment plans should only be negotiated on the residents’ actual debts and not that which accumulated as a result of the transition to the multi currency system.

 The HRT should engage council so that residents’ bills are made affordable.

 Council should correct the billing system, where services are nonexistent, residents should not be billed.

 Council must prioritise alternative revenue generation methods and strategies than continue to milk overburdened residents in order to uplift communities.

 The HRT should engage Zimbabwe National Road Authority (ZINARA) so that it allocates some of the revenue generated from vehicle licenses to council for road repair and maintenance.

In the Service of Residents- HRT- for a free and Prosperous Citizenry!

For details please contact the HRT Advocacy and Communications Officer on 0772816909 or HRT Membership Officer on 0773 249 039 or email us on [email protected]/ [email protected], [email protected]

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