Mount Pleasant councillor Mr Bernard Manyenyeni was officially installed as Harare mayor at the City Sports Centre yesterday. Speaking at the installation, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo said to be at the helm of the country’s capital required selfless dedication to duty and innovation.
“Harare has not been spared the myriad of challenges that have continued to torment our local authorities over the past years; in fact, it is my conviction that as the economic and administrative hub of the country; and clearly the most populous city, it has been the hardest hit.
“While you have assumed office during a period when the country is still recovering from the sanctions-induced economic stress, the residents evidently expect council to give them value for the hard-earned monies they pay to council with respect to rates and other tariffs,” he said.
Minister Chombo said it was imperative that the mayor nurture and sustain the spirit of collective accountability between and among councillors as anchored by technocrats such as divisional heads and their support staff.
Dr Chombo said his ministry, guided by the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-economic Transformation (Zim-Asset), had set out development priorities for 2014; among them ensuring improvement in water and sanitation services, provision of stands for housing for residential and commercial purposes, and measures to address traffic congestion.
“The influx of imported second-hand vehicles has seen an unprecedented increase in the volume of traffic on our roads, resulting in more carnage and traffic jams. This is exacerbated by the bad state of our road network as well as non-replacement of obsolete street furniture like lights and signs. It is instructive therefore that council charts options to decongest the city to avert further distress to road users,” he said.
He said council’s previous budgets had not been realistic as they tended to target 100 percent collection, which was not possible even in efficient economies.
Mayor Manyenyeni promised to work together with Government, residents and civil society.
“This council Honourable Minister (Dr Chombo) intends to make a difference. Yesterday, our full council approved an ambitious road rehabilitation funding programme. Recently we took delivery of road maintenance equipment. We promise to put them to good use. Let me promise Harare that your councillors will attend to enhanced financial discipline and disclosures-revenue assurance is key, especially the relatively high percentage of salary and related cost, attention to resident stakeholder issues and in keeping with international trends the re-greening of the city.”
He said political polarisation had cost the country more than it could afford, but said he was encouraged by the team spirit exhibited in local government thus far and thanked the parent ministry for its support.