Harare residents demand service delivery

Harare residents have demanded the immediate supply of clean water and other services from the new Zanu (PF) government.

Job Sikhala: ratepayers should go onto the streets.
Job Sikhala: ratepayers should go onto the streets.

The residents told representatives of political parties including Zanu (PF) at a panel discussion held at the Harare Media Centre recently that their patience was stretched to the limit.

Godfrey Chaibva of Zanu (PF) told them that service delivery at local government level would be determined by performance of the national economy.

Chaibva said in an environment where ratepayers did not honour their bills to local authorities, economic performance would not be achieved, impacting negatively on service delivery.

“Firstly, people should call for removal of restrictive measures imposed on Zimbabwe before asking for quality service delivery,” said Chaibva.

The Zanu (PF) official said removal of “sanctions” would lead to employment creation, which would enable ratepayers to meet their obligations to councils. He was booed by residents who blamed Zanu (PF) for their desperate circumstances.

This angered Chaibva who challenged residents to a free-for-all fight, or else he would not make further contributions to the discussion.

One of the panelists, MDC99 President Job Sikhala, called on government to formulate policies to promote water supplies. He said ratepayers should go onto the streets if government failed to provide running water in residential areas within the coming two weeks.

“Mugabe and his minister for water must provide residents with safe water now,” said Sikhala to applause from the floor. He said service delivery was a right and he was prepared to lead protests against a government which short-changes ratepayers.

The outspoken former MDC legislator for St Marys said Mugabe and Zanu (PF) had legitimised the non-delivery of services and corruption and urged people to desist from mere talk but demonstrate against governments which took people for granted.

Human rights lawyer Jeremiah Bhamu said it was unfortunate that the Zanu (PF) government would never give MDC city fathers room to provide services to residents.

Jeremiah Bhamu: ratepayers have nothing to celebrate.
Jeremiah Bhamu: ratepayers have nothing to celebrate.

“The recent appointments of provincial minister was meant to override MDC initiatives at local government level,” he said, adding that ratepayers had nothing to celebrate about the scrapped water and electricity bills, since government had cancelled debts accrued for service that was never delivered.

MDC-T spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora, said section 58 of the new constitution provides for peaceful demonstrations in pursuit of justice, rights and other causes.

He told residents that council and other government employees should not conduct themselves in a partisan manner that prejudiced residents of water, shelter or any other service and blamed Zanu (PF) for formulating unpopular and counter-productive policies which set MDC councils on a failed route.

Residents said water and refuse collection were not the only services expected of service providers. They said they were disturbed to learn that hospitals and clinics were doing without ambulance services, while President Mugabe and football matches had the privilege of having fleets of ambulances on standby 24 hours of the day.

Residents vowed not to accept projects such as the pre-paid water meter system which was proposed when councils were dissolved. They also said that they would not pay service bills for the coming five years if the Zanu (PF) government failed to urgently normalise service delivery.

Economic Analyst Godfrey Kanyenze recently said residents should cultivate a culture of resistance against non-delivery by service providers such as government.

“Ratepayers should mobilise and protest against rights such as access to water and standard service delivery,” Kanyenze said at a meeting held at SAPES in Harare.

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