Editorial Comment: Town House needs complete overhaul

Editorial Comment: Town House needs complete overhaul

Burn everything to the ground and start again from the ashes. And out of the ashes should emerge a well-oiled machine that will steer Harare back to the 21st century. Out of the ashes should emerge rays unbroken by the dark cloud that has been hovering over the Sunshine City.

Everything is broken at Town House and the only way forward is to destroy in order to rebuild.

Water is not coming out of taps and when it does, it is not safe to drink. It is always lights out on the potholed streets on which rain water stands still due to clogged storm- water drains. Rubbish collects, but is not collected while grass is only trimmed by the elements of the weather.

Clearly, the recent firing of directors is not enough. Everyone should go. Harare should be rebuilt from the ashes of its horrendous past.

The fired executives continued to earn between $12 000 and $21 000 from October 2014 to June 2015 in direct violation of a Government directive that the highest earner should take home $10 450.

And as if that were not enough, as we report elsewhere in this issue, the entire workforce at the municipality is overpaid. For example, a council nursing sister pockets $1 527 while a Government nurse has to make do with $500. That means the council nurse who refers all complicated cases to the Government nurse earns three times more. This is ludicrous!

It’s no wonder council collects $13 million a month only to blow $10 million on salaries.

We urge the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Cde July Moyo, to lead the process of reclaiming the capital’s long-lost glory by employing new brooms.

The country’s capital city cannot continue to run on autopilot. We urge Minister Moyo to treat the engagement of a substantive chief executive officer (town clerk) for Harare as a matter of urgency.

A competent individual with a clear track record in management is needed to set up a lean mean machine that will lead a motivated workforce, which will regain public confidence.

In May last year we reported that Government had introduced a performance management system for urban local authorities, which requires every employee to have an approved workplan which is in line with the council budget.

The system, which was designed as part of Government measures to enhance service delivery to ratepayers and citizens, would result in the establishment of appraisal panels for each council comprising an official from the Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Ministry, a local Public Service Commission inspector and a town clerk or secretary.

What happened to this plan? What is the performance of Harare City Council?

Speaking at the City’s Second Hundred Days Rapid Results Initiative End of Term Review Workshop last year, Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Ray Ndhlukula said: “Government is committed to continuously reform all public sector institutions in order to realise their purpose in life, that is, to offer high quality services in a reputable, accountable, effective and efficient manner in order to meet the contemporary needs of the citizenry.”

Government must be true to its word and reform Harare City Council. After having pioneered the implementation of the Rapid Results Approach for local authorities, Harare is still the worst run city in the country.

The people running the affairs of Harare have proved beyond doubt that they are out of their depth. New faces whose performance will be assessed by Government are needed today.

Action and not rhetoric should be the new motto.

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