Mayor Herbert Gomba’s State of the City address has won him plaudits for a practical approach to challenges facing the city but the country’s capital is still facing an uncertain future according to an expert who has cited myriad blind spots.
Mfundo Mlilo, an Urban Planner, says they are big challenges for Harare with the larger macro-economic environment seriously undercutting any ventures towards stabilizing and bringing order to the City.
“There are big challenges that lie ahead. At a global scale, these challenges emanate from the reality that the City is not spared by the challenges facing Zimbabwe.
“The shortage of foreign currency has meant that local authorities are unable to discharge their mandate and provide reliable services. Water services have been hard hit and it seems the problem will continue to expand”, he said.
Mlilo added that “in an era of diminished revenue collections and no foreign currency the City must devise new strategies for raising funds”.
“Without these strategies, Harare will ground to a halt. The City must plug loses and avoid wasteful expenditure and dealing with corruption must be high on the agenda for the next annual cycle”.
Harare has been advised to leverage on its possession of land though the absence of credible land bank has been cited a huge drawback.
“This is unacceptable and as recommended by a special committee on land sales in August 2019 Harare, loses millions of dollars each because of illicit land deals”.
“The City must follow up on its un-serviced debts and leases. Currently, the City of Harare has nonperforming leases running into millions of dollars. This is the critical revenue it needs to function and boggles one’s mind why these have not been followed”, he added.
The experts added that the City of Harare could benefit its residents with quality service if they fully embrace technology (smart city) initiatives in its work.
“For starters, the City loses over 60% of treated water each day due to non-revenue water a problem technology could address.
“A computerized lease management system will also go a long way in improving revenue collections (thus) the Mayor must nudge council to adopt the full spectrum of technology and smart projects at its disposal to improve service delivery”, he said.
The Mayor’s SOCA was presented early this week lay the groundwork for the City Father’s strategic approach going forward.
Harare has been struggling to meet service demands and has repeatedly faced the wrath of the public which feels robbed as rates are still being collected from them.