Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Nokuthula Matsikenyere has called for the de-politicisation of service delivery, while the MDC-led Mutare City Council has assured her of total cooperation to ensure the city meets its Vision 2030 targets.
She met the city fathers at the Civic Centre on Tuesday as part of her familiarisation tour of various projects the local authority is embarking on to change the face of the city.
Said Minister Matsikenyere: “Mutare is the face of Manicaland and we want it to be the best city in the country in terms of service delivery and smartness.
“This is only achievable if we de-politicise service delivery issues. We should all work together and ensure that we attain our common vision and objectives. So far, I am impressed with the level of cleanliness in the city despite a number of challenges we all know are saddling operations of all local authorities.
“It is the duty of everyone to work towards attracting investors to the city. We want to create a provincial website that will give any investor an insight of opportunities in the city through the click of a button. Mutare should play a leading role in this regard. As early as next week, a team of information technology experts will be in Mutare to work with the local authority to design this website.”
Like most urban settlements, Mutare has not been spared from the mushrooming of illegal settlements and haphazard urban planning that have left some residents vulnerable to flash floods.
Illegal urban cultivation has seen some residents clearing some of the mountains to create farming land, resulting in landslides and massive erosion in some areas.
Mutare Mayor, Councillor Blessing Tandi, promised total cooperation with Minister Matsikenyere’s office.
“We are ready to champion the devolution agenda and all our systems are already in motion. I want to assure the Minister’s office of total support and commitment from my office as well as everyone from this council. As we aim to be a world class city by 2030, it means our road network and infrastructure should be world class and this entails working together with all stakeholders to achieve that,” said Cllr Tandi.
The mayor also hailed the Government for declaring all roads a state of national disaster, saying Mutare’s roads are in a very poor state and need urgent attention, a task the local authority cannot address on its own.
“Our roads are in a deplorable state and we want to appreciate Government’s undertaking on rehabilitation of roads. We hope disbursements of funds will be timely for us to work on the roads.
“We are also mobilising our own resources to complement Government’s efforts. Because of the city’s proximity to the Sea Port of Beira, some of our roads are being damaged by haulage trucks that will be carrying goods on transit to various destinations.
“The project that should prioritise is the by-pass road to reduce road carnage at the Christmas Pass which is now a death trap,” said Clr Tandi.
He added: “Our greatest challenge in trying to address a plethora of challenges in the city is legacy issues where we inherited an almost broke council that is grappling with illegal sale of land, non-payment of workers’ salaries, no equipment, water challenges and lack of confidence on the leadership by residents.
“As we speak, we do not have a running grader, while one or two tippers are on the road. We are, however, ready to work with the Minister’s office to chart a new service delivery and development trajectory for the city.”
Manicaland Provincial Development Coordinator, Mr Edgars Seenza, implored the local authority to walk the talk in service delivery.
“You have a number of projects that are still on the drawing board that need implementation, like the Sakubva Urban Renewal Project. Communication will be coming in the immediate future for us to meet to ensure that the project takes off.
“I also implore you to come up with a mass transportation plan to reduce congestion on our roads. Our engineers must think beyond 2030 in terms of planning,” he said.
Minister Matsikenyere and her delegation toured Mutare Infectious Diseases Hospital, which is one of the city’s Covid-19 isolation centres, Acid Vegetable Market, Dangamvura Water Project and Sakubva Urban Renewal site.