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City of Harare 2012 performance review
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)
Janaury 14, 2013

Introduction

CHRA rating of the City of Harare for 2012 is a C on a scale of A-F. The rate of A is the best while F being the worst performance rating. This is because of the efforts that have been done by the City to delivery public services and the apparent service delivery challenges faced by residents. It is difficult to rate the City of Harare because of the apparent challenges between the who institutional blocks, that is, the Council (composed of councilors) and the Municipality (bureaucrats) who are in constant conflict and policy paralysis. Nonetheless the Association notes the efforts done by the City of Harare to improve the delivery of services. CHRA contends that the City of Harare could do more if it came up with a vibrant inclusive strategic plan with the involvement of its key stakeholders, adopts a participatory budget framework and if the Urban Councils Act is reformed so that it promotes downward accountability and limits the "unholy" hand of the Minister of Local government. Consequently our overall assessment of the City of Harare is that there are clear intentions of reform yet the City remains locked and bogged down by lack of resources, lack of political will and corruption.

Services

Water

The Harare City council failed to efficiently and effectively provide water to the bulk of Harare's suburbs in 2012. Many residents faced 3 day to three weeks water cuts especially in Highlands, Masasa, Greendale, and other high density suburbs. To make matters worse some of the boreholes have been condemned to be positive of salmonella Typhea the bacteria that causes Cholera and Typhoid. There are many multi-faceted reasons as why the city failed to provide water. Firstly, the city has/is losing at least 50% of its treated water due to leakages resulting from burst pipes. Currently, the City needs at least USD 200 million to deal with the replacement of old infrastructure and this amount has not been raised because the city is collecting revenue that falls far below the stipulated figure annually. Clearly, there is no noticeable effort to deal with the piping system in Harare. The Kunzvi dam project which is set to ease problems of water provision in Harare, Chitungwiza and Norton seems to take forever to complete and this is seriously affecting Harare which also has to make do with other towns mentioned before. Many southern suburbs are getting water only during the night and this has provided a fertile ground for diarrheal diseases like typhoid and Cholera. Thus, while there has been a general improvement in the amount of bulk water generated by the City since 2008 there still remains ominous challenges in addressing water provision.

Infrastructure development/maintenance

Not much has been done to deal with the state of our roads despite efforts being made to deal with the issue of potholes mainly in the Central Business District. Road networks in many suburbs have made it difficult to navigate due to huge potholes. This rainy season makes it a great risk for one to want to travel during the night because of the waterlogged potholes.

Traffic lights at many intersections are not working and this is due to either power cuts or non functionality of these traffic lights. Accidents have been occurring inspired by this phenomenon. The linking of road networks and rail networks and establishing traffic signals or boom gates still remains to be seen. Most traffic lights at rail road intersections are not functioning making it possible for vehicle collision with rail transport.

Housing

The housing backlog of council remains pregnant with at least one million people waiting to be allocated land. Land distribution continues to be done by the upper class that buys vast tracts of land in council then distributes it for a higher price despite the fact that most of these stands are not yet serviced. Housing cooperatives have now been infiltrated as political platforms. Zanu PF has been mobilizing people in Hatcliff using housing cooperatives and people flock to these meetings because of their sheer desperation to get a stand. All housing or land deals were stalled by Minister Chombo who argues that the tendering system remains flawed and people in Budiriro and Dzivarasekwa have been hugely affected after the Old Mutual / CABS deal was stalled.

Health delivery

Health delivery has been generally good mainly due to the affordability of the services at community level. The decentralization of the distribution of anti-retroviral drugs has made life easy for those living with H.I.V and Aids to access their drugs locally instead of having to make do with the long and winding queues at district of government hospitals. However, the City failed to comply with a cabinet directive that stated that all maternal health fees should be slashed to zero. The failure by the City to deal with the issue of diarrheal diseases worries us because of the medieval status of these diseases.

Refuse collection

Refuse collection has general been good considering that council has been able to procure more refuse collection trucks. This means that each and every ward will have a dedicated truck and compactor to collect refuse. The city now needs to create more dumping land and come up with recycling and refuse separation strategies. In 2008 CHRA recorded at least 1900 illegal refuse dumps which was however reduced to 700 in 2012 which is a noticeable effort by the City. The City also launched a Zero Litter campaign in 2012 which is also a noticeable effort to address environmental issues and bring back Harare to its sunshine status.

Administration

Budget formulation

The budget formulation process remains as one that is shallow and lacks credibility. The process in its self is one that is only meant to hoodwink residents in believing that they are participating in this process yet there is not participation at all. The budget process is an all year round which process which should involve residents at each and every level of decision making or consultation. However, to involve residents in September only remains a fallacy because residents are not involved in budget tracking. Residents need to be informed of how much is being spent by council (in totality) and how much is being earned so as to create a sense of process ownership on the part of residents who are the key stakeholder. No audits have been released as of now and this creates a hazy picture as to how much is really being made at town house for it would be myopic for us to continue relying on figures that are coming from the City treasurer.

Financial Management.

How finances are run in council remains a secret of the technocrats. Nobody really knows how much is being received and expended on a monthly basis or quarterly basis. Figures from the treasury department reveal that at least 40% of the City's total revenue is coming from water but the same 40% is being spent on salaries and allowances. This then reveals a serious lack of priorities on the part of council and can be the basis to explain the erratic water provision in the city. The Local authority failed to produce mid- term budget review and financial statements as promised in the 2011 budget presentation. The audits for 2010-12 have not yet even started and this is unacceptable in new management practices. The ratio of service versus administration spending remains at 40-60 which is a worrying trend as most of the resources are spent on administration.

Human resource

We have learnt that some directors have lapsed their contract terms but they are still at work. We are also aware that the 2011 human resource audit reveals that there are more than 300 ghost workers on the council's payroll but nothing has been done or reported as done in terms of arresting the scenario at prevalence. The salaries that are being received by directors are not known even to the City fathers who are supposed to be responsible for negotiating their contracts. We are not happy with the way in which the Mayor has been at the forefront of defending the Directors perks and his recent move to okay the purchase of vehicles for the Town clerk and Chamber secretary despite the fact that their contracts will come to an end in February this year.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that the quality of service provided by the City of Harare has improved from 2008 when the current council took over. However, this improvement has not reached a level of service satisfaction by the general citizen in Harare. We understand that some of these problems are historical and go back to the Makwavarara Commission which virtually run-down the public service system in Harare.

In 2013 we expect the Parliament of Zimbabwe to complete the Urban Councils Act reform process. CHRA has produced a Stakeholders paper on priority amendments which will be submitted to parliament. This process should address the policy paralysis that affects local authorities. We expect City of Harare to improve the delivery of water services at least by 50% and address the piping problem. CHRA expects City of Harare to extend its road surfacing and pothole filling program to high density suburbs. Importantly, the City must come up with a lasting solution on the cholera and typhoid problem. It is fundamentally important for City of Harare to complete its vision 2025 and bring it to the public as a social contract for the development of Our City.

Visit the CHRA fact sheet

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