By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
10 April 2014
Chitungwiza residents were in parliament Wednesday where they briefed legislators about poor governance and lack of service delivery in the municipality.
Longstanding issues besetting residents in the Chitungwiza municipality range from an erratic water supply, corruption, power cuts and the demolition of homes.
Chitungwiza Residents Trust director Marvelous Khumalo, who led the delegation that appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Local Government, said they are unhappy that the quality of service continues to decline as rates are increased.
“This is especially in the area of water provision and power supply where residents can go for weeks without supplies.”
Residents also have to contend with potholes and uncollected garbage among other ills that have erased any semblance of normal life for them, Khumalo said.
The residents are also complaining about unaccountability and the refusal by municipal authorities to declare their assets to facilitate public scrutiny.
Khumalo welcomed the current national discussion on corruption but said he is skeptical about the political will to translate this into censure for those found guilty.
“In Chitungwiza there have been several drives to unearth corruption in the form of audits, government-sponsored commissions but this is as far as it got. Recommendations remain unimplemented and those found guilty not punished.”
However, he said residents were not considering a rates boycott yet. He said they will continue to engage the municipality for better service and only resort to a boycott if lobbying fails.
On Tuesday residents in neighbouring Harare threatened to withhold rates until service delivery improves, a common complaint against most local authorities.
This came after Harare City Council said it would disconnect water supply to residents whose accounts are in arrears.
Precious Shumba, who heads the Harare Residents Trust, told the NewsDay newspaper that members had “run out of patience” with Town Hall, and were considering a rates boycott.
Harare residents have long been unhappy with the city’s shambolic billing system through which they have been excessively billed, sometimes for unsupplied water.
Shumba also accused city authorities of creating artificial water shortages to justify privatising water. This follows reports that the city’s is supplying only 500 megalitres per day instead of the required 1,400 megalitres.
City officials blame the burgeoning population, which has not been matched by infrastructural development. Residents however say it’s largely due to poor planning, inefficiency and rampant corruption by those tasked with running the affairs of the council.
The city also loses 60% of its treated water to leakages, as obsolete infrastructure dating to the colonial period has never been upgraded.
Speaking on SW Radio Africa’s Big Picture programme Thursday, Harare resident Buhlebenkosi Tshabangu-Moyo said she would participate in a rates boycott.
Tshabangu said poor water provision has led to the deaths of many residents and by now the council should have in place measures to ensure that people do not continue to die from waterborne diseases.
“What does it say about a service provider that just in 2008 we had thousands of people dying from cholera and yet nothing has been done to prevent similar outbreaks? Just last week three people are said to have died from typhoid.
“I think it is time for us to register our displeasure at being taken for granted by not paying for a service we are not receiving,” she added.
Thabani Nyoni, director at civic group Bulawayo Agenda, said it was good that Zimbabweans were adopting various protest methods to register their displeasure at under-performing public officials.
“Whether or not the rates boycott threat translates to action remains to be seen but what is important is that we are beginning to see and hear Zimbabweans challenging those tasked with and voicing their anger at poor service delivery, corruption and poor governance across sectors,” Nyoni added.