Garikai Mazara —
When the New City, being developed to de-congest Harare, is done and dusted, it will owe part of its soul to Peter Hlohla, the chief executive officer of Zvimba rural district council.
A town planner by training, occupation and passion, for Peter Hlohla the development of Murombedzi in particular and Zvimba in general is because his umbilical cord lies within Zvimba’s soil.
“Yes, I am a son of the soil, I was born here at Murombedzi, 39 years ago and to me the development that happens to this area is particularly of interest to me because it is my home area.”
After being born at Gangarahwa Hospital, which is at Murombedzi growth point, Hlohla did part of his primary schooling a stone’s throw away, at Tafira Primary School before moving to Kenzamba in Makonde district for high school.
On completing Ordinary Level, he joined the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services as a Grade 1 prison officer, serving the force for seven.
“I took my years with the Prisons Service to do my Advanced Level and when I passed I enrolled at the University of Zimbabwe for the Rural and Urban Planning programme.”
Armed with the town planning qualification he joined the Ministry of Local Government and National Housing in 2009 and was posted to Murombedzi growth point, to serve in the Zvimba rural district council as head of the planning department. For him, life had come full circle.
Then in 2015 he was appointed the chief executive officer, tasked with turning around the fortunes of the council. “I have to pay tribute to the zeal that my team has in working as a unit, for without that kind of co-operation, we would not have been able to achieve what we have achieved in the short time we have been together as a team.”
He also pays tribute to the residents of the Zvimba, whose existence he acknowledges makes Zvimba the rural council it is. “For without the residents, who are in turn the rate payers, there would be no Zvimba council to talk of. Admittedly, running a council has its challenges but what is needed is an open-door policy, everyone is a stakeholder and the more we share information and advice, the better our council becomes.”
On why and how his council has remained largely untainted by controversy, in an era when most councils are dogged by poor service delivery, Hlohla attributes this to the win-win relationship that his council has with its residents.
“We do have challenges here and there, but the best would be to be in constant engagement with residents, reason why we hold stakeholders forums on a regular basis. This will basically be to keep our residents posted on what will be happening in council, so that they don’t rely on hear-say. Our success is everyone’s success.”
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