|Chitungwiza municipality the ‘bad boy’|
|Sunday, 19 February 2012 00:00|
Chitungwiza Town Council has become known for alleged financial misuse, illegal stand sales, poor service delivery, nepotism, corruption and high allowances for top executives. As a result, the council has been dubbed one of the worst performers in the country.
But despite the "bad boy'' tag, the Movement for Democratic Change-led municipality seems unmoved and residents continue to bear the brunt of its shortcomings.
This has seen the local authority's town clerk, Godfrey Tanyanyiwa, being arrested on allegations of defrauding the local authority of more than US$700 000, among other charges.
The Government has also moved in and put in place a five-member team to lead Chitungwiza.
The chairman of the team, Mr Fungai Mbetsa, said all was not well in the local authority.
"The municipality has accumulated debts in excess of US$10 million.
"The biggest challenge which council is facing currently is the issue of revenue collection.
"Currently the wage bill stands at US$1,7 million per month, and so does the revenue. How then can we talk of service delivery?"
Since taking office, the predominently MDC-T councillors stand accused of lining their pockets and clandestinely awarding themselves residential and industrial stands.
Residents have endured mountains of uncollected refuse, pothole-riddled roads and ever-flowing streams of raw sewage.
Interestingly, the councillors continue to sit in meetings that come up with recommendation after recommendation which are never implemented.
Chitungwiza municipality is said to owe Harare council over US$8 million for water supplied to the satellite town.
The local authority has not even made a real decision to address the water situation in the area.
This failure to address the water situation has also prompted the residents to boycott paying their bills as some parts of Chitungwiza have gone for years without water.
Local government expert Mr Jerry Gotora said Chitungwiza, like most local authorities, was mismanaged as a result of poor leadership chosen by the residents.
"Local authorities have been mismanaged as a result of the people's failure to elect leaders with the requisite skill and experience. This is what has affected Harare, Chitungwiza and other authorities," he said.
"It is, however, very difficult for a local authority to operate without funds. The residents must play a role, they must sustain their local authority by paying their bills, but on the other hand the municipality must deliver."
Most authorities have been reduced to places where councillors amass wealth at the expense of the ratepayers.
This has led to the Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development, Dr Ignatius Chombo, to intervene.
The minister has since ordered local authorities to adopt a 70-30 revenue allocation model, where the bulk of the money generated goes to service delivery and the other portion is channelled towards salaries.
Most authorities claim that failure by some residents to settle their bills is the reason for the poor service delivery.