By Innocent Ruwende
Harare Mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni has conceded that his MDC-T led council is deceiving residents by offering poor services, which he described as “service deceivery”, as salary and benefits gobble 80 percent of the city’s revenue.
Addressing his third and last State of the City Address on Wednesday, Clr Manyenyeni decried the calibre of prospective councillors, saying he did not think they had what it takes to turn around the city’s fortunes.
He said he had a meeting with aspiring councillors, but was not impressed.
“A 25 percent retention fund was put in place, but we have reported a monumental failure because there is not even enough to allocate the 25 percent if salaries and benefits gobble over 80 percent of the collections,” he said.
“Retention of 25 percent of revenue should be a major component of the new governance structure, which would have enabled local development initiatives to take shape.
“With this in mind, I wish to coin and introduce into the Queen’s language the term ‘service deceivery’ and I leave it there.”
Clr Manyenyeni said he recognised and appreciated the various community efforts done to fill in council’s gaps.
He said the non-payment of rates negatively impacted on service delivery and the expectations that there would be another write-off this year made it virtually impossible to maximise collections.
The city, he said, continued to be saddled with the effects of a huge debtors’ book now approaching $740 million.
“I am confident that there will not be any write-off this year, as demonstrated by the damage of July 2013,” said Clr Manyenyeni.
“Allow me to give you an overview of the financial outlook just on a monthly basis for simplicity.
“Monthly revenue potential is $23 million, monthly average collections are $13 million and, therefore, collection efficiency is 57 percent.
“I am urging political will, political authority and political commitment to be availed, in order to arrest the continued decline of council. Power and will-power must converge for the revival of Harare City Council.”
Clr Manyenyeni said the forthcoming elections were an opportunity at municipal level to replace retiring councillors and bring on board the much-needed capacity.
He said those seeking mandates from residents must demonstrate their understanding or capacity to understand key issues in council.
“I had a privilege of sharing insights with prospective councillors across the political divide yesterday,” said Clr Manyenyeni.
“I was not encouraged. They must convince us that they have what it takes to take Harare out of its mess. It is not just about the capacity to secure electoral votes.
“Being elected does not in itself give one the competence to function effectively as a councillor. Competence comes from a combination of education, training, experience and exposure.”
Clr Manyenyeni said council could fix the city by getting its priorities straight, by focusing on the basics and by paying attention to the bread and butter issues of service delivery. The Herald