The Sunday News
Rutendo Nyeve, Sunday News Reporter
THE Government says it is disappointed with poor service delivery obtaining in the country’s towns and cities that does not signal a collective agenda steeped towards achieving an upper-middle income economy by 2030.
As part of a raft of measures to ensure improved service delivery, that speaks to achievement of the National Development Strategy 1, the Government is going to tie down town clerks and mayors to account for poor service delivery through a stiff performance measurement tool – the performance-based contracts, which has already been implemented in other sectors.
The Government noted that basic service delivery has continued to suffer in the country with a number of local authorities failing to provide water, attend to sewer and water pipe bursts, as well as failing to maintain an efficient road network. The councils have also failed to collect garbage, maintain vending order, fix street lighting and cut overgrown shrubs, trees and grass leaving the environs unmanicured and increasing chances of muggings of residents by criminals.
Director of Communications and Advocacy in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works Mr Gabriel Masvora told Sunday News that the Government was overly unhappy with the situation obtaining in the country’s towns and cities.
He said the signing of performance-based contracts would help Government in its supervisory role to action on local authorities.
Some local authorities signed the contracts last year while others said they wanted to study the documents first, but government insists that all local authorities have to sign the contracts.
“The Ministry is not happy with how local authorities are performing. To us as the supervising ministry, this has an impact on the town clerks’ contracts. We are expecting more town clerks and mayors to sign performance-based contracts this year that will see their service delivery performance being scrutinised.
Once they sign these performance-based contracts, they will stipulate what they ought to achieve within a particular timeframe and if they do not meet those demands then we will action on their contracts,” said Mr Masvora.
The Government introduced performance-based contracts in 2020 where senior administrators in Government starting with permanent secretaries’ performance is expected to be measured against.
The signing of the performance contracts which were meant for 2021 marked the start of a new system where those managing the public service were expected to perform to defined standards in line with key reforms in the public sector as the country moves towards an upper-middle-class economy by 2030.
Turning to the poor state of roads both in urban and rural council areas, Mr Masvora said the authorities have a mandate to ensure the roads were serviced as there were mechanisms to fund that service.
“The Zimbabwe National Road Authority (Zinara) goes direct to councils and gives them funds to rehabilitate roads.
“Residents also pay rates which we also expect to contribute towards service delivery. Government has also come in to mitigate adopting some local authority roads through the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP) as well as through devolution funds,” said Mr Masvora.
Meanwhile, the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) president Councillor Abel Matsika acknowledged that roads, particularly in urban areas were in a bad shape. He expressed gratitude over various Government interventions saying they were pleading for increased funding towards road rehabilitation.
“Indeed, the state of roads in most of our towns and cities is bad. Though there has been an improvement since the intervention of the Government through the ERRP, but there is a lot of work to be done.
We are indeed engaging the Government itself to increase the money that they are injecting through ERRP. We are also asking the Government to give us leverage of engaging some private players so that we deal with this once and for all,” said Clr Matsika.
He said a number of local authorities were struggling to get enough funds as Government had allegedly been delaying to disburse funds for road maintenance and ERRP such that they have been having running battles with contractors in terms of payments.
“In each and every authority there are some contractors who are at work right now regardless of delays in payments. It is very difficult to point out which are the worst affected towns or cities but there is no denying that the roads are littered with potholes,” said Clr Matsika.
The Bulawayo City Council last week suspended the health services director, Dr Edwin Sibanda, over poor service delivery amid cries by residents over uncollected garbage in the city centre and residential areas. — @nyeve14