Mayor of Harare Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni has publicly conceded that the much publicised Vision 2025 – a target set for council by his predecessor Muchadeyi Masunda for Harare to achieve world class by 2025 – is now an illusion. Speaking during his second State of the City Address, Manyenyeni described any reference to 2025 as “no longer a projection but outright propaganda.”
The address took place at the Mayoral Mansion in Gunhill on 13 April, and Manyenyeni attributed the failure of vision 2025 predominantly to the sustained economic downturn, but also the counterproductive tension between council and central government.
“In a normal country the ministry responsible would be an enabler, a facilitator and a catalyst for the good things a council seeks to do, but that is not the case, and under the current conditions the city will get worse before it gets better,” said Manyenyeni.
In particular it is the battle for the office of Town Clerk, who holds the city’s purse strings, that Manyenyeni sees as a hindrance to progress.
“The ministry’s intransigence against the new constitution and our choice of the Town Clerk is burdensome. There is a constitutional court application challenging sections of the Urban Councils Act which are inconsistent with the Supreme Law of the land. Over 2 years of our mandate have been lost in the battle to get a Town Clerk acceptable to our political opponents,” said the mayor, who lamented the fact that the courts take a long time to make decisions on these matters.
“In my own mind I have since decommissioned the 2025 timeline but I have not abandoned the hope and desire for the world class goal. It will be done. Last year I shared the hope that we could leave council and the City better than when we came in.
“With 12 to 15 months of our term left, not much has been done to secure that hope. Both the national picture and the city picture have been let down by lack of effective action around critical areas. Overdue decisions are deferred,” said Manyenyeni.
Highlighting the need for more independence at council, Manyenyeni said that council has suffered from “very little space to de-couple Harare from both country and its government.”
“The turnaround of this city requires almost ten years of doing the right things biting bullets and making tough decisions – most certainly in a well-run country,” he added.
The Mayor noted three critical issues as the main concern for Harare residents; roads, water and litter in that order.
The state of roads in Harare has been declared a national disaster. Some parts of the city are not receiving piped water, while those receiving, they get it once in a while. Meanwhile refuse collection is erratic across the city.
The Mayor said that council has decentralised service delivery to districts offices which will retain 25% of revenue collected. This, he said, is part of the journey towards devolution and an extension of the 10% Ward retention scheme initiated two years ago.
“Eight Chief Area Administration Officers and Senior Administration Officers (Finance) have been appointed on an acting basis and these positions will be filled in line with Council recruitment policies and will be traded off against the existing non-critical positions. Effectively the Chief Area Administration Officer has become the local town clerk out of whom service levels must be enhanced.
“It is also an opportune moment to indicate that your day-to-day issues are handled by our council officers not councillors who are supposed to be employed full-time elsewhere,” explained the Mayor.
It is hoped that decentralisation is going to improve operational efficiency, accountability, the transformation of council into a more responsive and customer focused organisation, as well as improve revenue inflows from services and council businesses.
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