Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter—
LOCAL authorities have been slammed for attempting to cover up their shortcomings on service delivery to the national leadership through refurbishment of roads in various towns ahead of the ongoing Presidential Youth Interface Rallies. Roads in most towns are inaccessible with City Fathers turning a blind eye to the potholes that have become an eyesore.
The simplest excuse given by most City Fathers is that they do not have enough funds to refurbish the roads.
Town planners said the issue of funding was a mere scapegoat but the councils were expending their energies on misplaced priorities.
They queried where the resources would suddenly come from ahead of President Mugabe’s visit to a particular city or town.
First local to play the trick was Marondera Town Council, which resealed most roads in the town a few days before the President’s visit two weeks ago.
But Zanu-PF Secretary for Women’s Affairs Amai Grace Mugabe called their bluff and slammed the City Fathers saying they should do their work all the time instead of waiting for Presidential visits.
“We neglect roads for a long time and only refurbish them when the President is coming here,” she said of Marondera council.
“No, that’s not good. How many times does the President come here? Roads should be maintained all the time to show that we are here to represent the people,” she said.
Some Mutare residents took to social media yesterday slamming council for feverishly working on roads that link Mutare Teachers’ College and Sakubva High 1 simply because President Mugabe would be in Mutare for the second Presidential Youth Interface Rally this Friday.
Town planner Mr Percy Toriro told The Herald yesterday: “When you are a leader you don’t do things for an occasion. This idea of putting resources together by local authorities when the President is visiting is self-defeating. They are shooting themselves in the foot. They think that they are pleasing the President yet they will be exposing themselves.
“The agenda of the President is to ensure that all people enjoy good life wherever they are even if he is not there.”
He said day-to-day maintenance of roads and provision of other services should be done using rates and service charges paid to the council monthly.
Mr Toriro added: “If you provide resources in some cases for a particular occasion and in some cases you say there are no resources, you leave the public confused as to whether you genuinely don’t have the resources or it’s a matter of misplaced priorities. That is not the best way of doing business.”
Another town planner, Dr Sasha Jogi, said: “You (local authorities) don’t want to show the President that you cannot do certain things. If it is at home you will borrow bread from your neighbour to please the President. I can see why council would want to impress the President. That is not the way of doing things. Business must be run on a planned programme. We need planning and communication between the City Fathers and the residents.
“Currently, there is no communication between the administrators and the residents and as such residents would simply ask why should I pay?”
Zanu-PF Secretary for Youths Cde Kudzanai Chipanga said most of the works that were being undertaken on the roads was being done by central Government after many years of neglect by MDC-T-run councils.
“Our ministries of Transport and Infrastructural Development and Local Government have come to rescue the situation after MDC-T councillors failed to deliver as expected. I am sure that the electorate will deal with this matter next year by voting these people out.
A concerned Mutare resident said: ‘’In a few days’ time President Mugabe will be visiting Mutare’s Sakubva high-density suburb. For the past two weeks I have seen men in yellow overalls filling potholes on the road from Mutare Teachers’ College to Sakubva High 1 and later they were sweeping the road. I am not sure whether these are from Mutare City Council or Zinara but certainly this is not right.
‘’In 2011 the whole of Starling Road in Greenside was resurfaced because of the Zanu-PF National People’s Conference that was held at Marymount Teachers’ College. They even created a new half a kilometre road from Rekayi Tangwena into Marymount specifically for the Presidential motorcade.
“The road was never used, not even by the President himself. Until recently it had become a dumpsite. Now, if roads are only resurfaced or repaired because President Mugabe is coming then I am going to invite President Mugabe for dinner at my residence and force the hypocrites to work!’’ fumed one Farai Maguwu in a Facebook post.
Efforts to get comment from Mutare City Council were fruitless yester- day.