LOCAL authorities have an obligation to deliver a variety of services including basic essential services such as provision of potable water, sanitation, housing and roads, among others.
When residents and businesses pay rates to council, they are paying for service delivery. However, there has been concern that the Bulawayo City Council is not playing ball and is failing to meet its mandate of service delivery. The city used to pride itself as being the cleanest in the country, but that is no longer the case with litter seen everywhere in the city centre piling up in sanitary lanes.
Furthermore, despite heavy rains received last year and with support in terms of machinery and boreholes from Government, the city still failed to provide water to all suburbs, as some suburbs continued to experience water cuts throughout the year.
With the rains upon us, the majority of roads especially in residential areas have become bad and a danger to motorists and pedestrians.
The roads are now littered with massive potholes and there has been no action from council to remedy the situation.
Of note is that the only roads that are in good shape are roads that have been repaired by Central Government through the Emergency Road Rehabilitation programme.
And the programme came into action after realisation that the road infrastructure across the country was in bad shape after years of neglect by local authorities, with the situation further worsened by heavy rains received last year.
As residents endure the hardship of travelling on dilapidated roads, they wonder where the council that collects rates from them every month is. They keep asking themselves if councillors they voted into office stay in their neighbourhoods and use the same roads they use. Bulawayo residents have since resorted to social media to vent their frustrations on poor service delivery by council.
It is behind this background that President Mnangagwa is on record urging the electorate to use the forthcoming elections to vote out corrupt councillors as they are derailing national development, especially in urban areas.
He was speaking in Bulawayo during the third anniversary of the National Clean-up Campaign in Mzilikazi suburb last month.
President Mnangagwa said it was worrying that members of the public continue to pay rates while service delivery is declining.
He said the electorate should, in the coming elections, punish elected council officials who abuse local authority resources. The country is set to hold by-elections next year and harmonised polls in 2023 and by-elections are due in March.
“I further urge local authorities to stop the abuse of resources of rate-payers, which has resulted in failure to collect and manage waste, among other acts and omissions.
Sadly, this has become a reflection of the quality of councillors and management entrusted with the affairs of our local authorities, especially those in the urban areas. The forthcoming elections present an opportunity for them to be voted out of office,” he said.