(Last Updated on November 1, 2023 by ZIMDAILY EDITOR)
By Lynn Menita Kondo
HARARE – The City of Harare is working on a Records Management Policy that will help in the effective management of council records, Ward 17 councillor, Happymore Gotora has said.
Speaking during a meet and greet with residents Tuesday, Clr Gotora, who is the chairperson of the Information and Publicity Committee, indicated that Harare municipality records system is almost non existent, adding that it is a ‘nightmare’ to get records from the city.
“My committee is working on developing a Records Management Policy. The first Draft is now in place. This policy will help in effective management of Council Records. Currently it is a nightmare to get records from Council. They hope that, the situation will improve once they operationalise this policy as Council’, said Councillor Gotora.
On top of that, Gotora said focus will be placed on improving service delivery and ensuring that resources are allocated efficiently to meet the needs of the citizens, ensure that decisions are made in the best interest of the community, advocate for the decentralisation of refuse collection assets for ward 17 and prioritize infrastructure development as a way to support economic growth and improve the quality of life for residents.
In his update of the work they were continuing to do, Gotora highlighted that council was seized with reviewing and updating city by-laws.
“Council reviewed a total of 15 by-laws in 2023 including Model Building By- Laws, Traffic By-Laws, Parking Meters, Physical Examination, Occupation of Council Buildings and developed five new ones including Land use and Natural Resources, Funeral Parlours and Mortuaries, Development Control, which if gazetted will regulate activities in these sectors.
“The council is also in the process of reviewing the old 1979 Waste Management by-law so that it is more skewed towards stakeholder involvement. The current challenge they have as Council is late approval of their by-laws by the Attorney Generals’ Office. The council will continue to engage these critical stakeholders so that its by-laws are approved
“I am encouraging all the residents in this ward to register their email addresses with our District Officer so that we can start sending your bills on emails. I also urge you to settle your outstanding obligations to enable us to be able to provide the services that we all clamour for.’ he added.
He further highlighted that Council continued to face service delivery bottlenecks due to financial constraints necessitated by the inflationary environment prevailing in Zimbabwe. He highlighted that the City’s tariffs were pegged in USD and converted to the Zimbabwean currency, ZWL, using the exchange rate of the 1st of each month for each month’s billing.
“The Council is still maintaining balances in ZWL, a situation that has resulted in erosion of value of the debt. Council’s ultimate wish is for them to be able to bill in USD and allow customers to pay in the currency of their choice at interbank exchange rate,” he said.
Currently, the continued fluctuations in the exchange rate has posed a series of challenges for the city.
Added to that, Gotora highlighted the liquidity challenges continue to pile as residents fail to meet their payment requirements as the Council debtors book continue to swell. He suggested that there is need to decentralise revenue mobilisation and debt management, if the City is to successfully manage debts and services.
Turning to water, he mentioned that there was need to invest more on waste water treatment capacities to manage downstream water pollution highlighting that new treatment technologies are required to manage water treatment costs and improve production capacities at Morton Jeffry Treatment Plant.
On the informal sector, the City adopted a Smaller and Medium Enterprises Development policy earlier this year, crucial for promoting job creation, economic growth, poverty reduction, inclusive development, innovation, and sustainable practices.
“By providing targeted support and creating an enabling environment, such a policy can unlock the potential of SMEs and drive overall socio-economic progress,” Gotora said.
In the meeting, he emphasised the importance of constant feedback on key issues affecting Ward 17, and pledged to work closely with the residents and the departments of council to address such key challenges as water, sewer, roads and street lighting.