Varsities urged to research on councils’ challenges
Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Universities have been implored to use research to address dysfunctionalities currently bedevilling local authorities countrywide as well as gathering data needed to aid town planning to solve the challenge of illegal settlements.
Addressing delegates at the Tertiary Institutions and Local Authorities Partnerships Conference at the University of Zimbabwe, Local Government Public Works and National Housing Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, said urban local authorities stood to benefit immensely from the knowledge bank generated by tertiary institutions.
“Closer and more productive engagement between the research community and local government in Zimbabwe ensures that councils utilise the existing research base for the development of our cities. A rich diversity of research derived knowledge can be tapped by local government,” he said.
“The partnership will see the local authorities tapping onto the skills found in our universities while at the same time offering valuable practical advice to our universities so that they produce proper graduates, with the technical and practical experience needed in the sector.”
He said the purpose of the cooperation was to increase the participation and role of tertiary institutions from different disciplines to contribute towards solving problems faced by the local government sector.
Minister Kasukuwere said such cooperation would bring broad socio-economic benefits in local authorities and to the respective universities.
“Capacities at the majority of our tertiary institutions is not being put to use by our local authorities, which has seen papers and dissertations done by students gathering dust without being implemented,” he said.
“We have also witnessed situations where universities are producing graduates who are not equipped enough to carry out the practical work. Companies and local authorities are complaining about this development.”
He said the engagement should ensure that universities would not exert pressure on local authorities through producing students who are irrelevant in the market since this would negatively impact on the development of the country.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo said universities came up with engineering and technological solutions that were called intellectual property.
“You pay for intellectual property as and when you use it. The universities should fund the production of the solutions and if those solutions are accepted by the local authorities and are implemented residents pay part of the payment,” he said.
“There is a different funding mechanism. You do not say give me a billion dollars and I will solve your problem. You solve the problem and if it is accepted and implemented you get payment. If every resident is paying 50 cents towards the producer of the solution that is how you pay for it.”
He said the problem was that local authorities wanted residents to pay rates for services that were not rendered.
The conference is being attended by local authorities and universities.