MUTARE mayor, Councillor Blessing Tandi, has hailed the Second Republic for the on-going disbursement of devolution funds that have helped the cash-strapped local authority roll out several developmental projects that are improving service delivery in the city.
Addressing delegates who attended the inaugural State of the City Address at Mutare (Queen’s) Hall on Tuesday, Cllr Tandi said devolution funds are a game-changer.
He said although the local authority has so far received a small percentage of the funds they had budgeted for, the little that came their way was used wisely to renovate Mutare Infectious Disease Hospital, Sakubva Stadium, rehabilitate roads as well as the Dangamvura Water Pipeline.
Cllr Tandi urged Government to prioritise allocating more funds to provincial and metropolitan cities to speed up the rate of development.
“We want to see development unfolding courtesy of the devolution agenda and that can only be realised if more resources are channelled to provincial capitals and metropolitan cities,” he said.
“We want to appreciate the extended olive branch which came in the form of devolution grants that have assisted us to roll our developmental projects. Council had accessed $32 849 485.47 out of the budgeted figure of $192 million. We received some funds for the renovation of Mutare Infectious Disease Hospital courtesy of devolution funds and work has not been completed.
“The facility can only accommodate eight patients until all outstanding works on the main hospital have been completed and equipped. Major renovations on the main hospital have been heavily affected by limited financial resources. Council is in the process of procuring material for outstanding electrical, plumbing, glazing and carpentry works. When fully completed, the new health centre will be able to provide 32 beds and for the works to be completed, we still require $57m.”
On Sakubva Stadium, the mayor said $2 million was received from Government and council used its own funds to finance the completion of the whole project.
“The bulk of the resources which were used on Sakubva Stadium were internal funds. We also rehabilitated some of the road network courtesy of the devolution grants under the Emergency Roads Repair Programme. We have so far completed resealing of Aerodrome Road. We did 1.3km of Aerodrome Road using Government funding and the rest of the 3km was funded internally by council,” he said.
Cllr Tandi said the local authority has since aligned its operations in line with Government’s stance of promoting the ease of doing business in order to attract more investment into the eastern border city.
“In line with the Second Republic mantra, Zimbabwe is Open for Business, the City of Mutare started to adopt the ease of doing business reforms in 2018. Major achievements include the reduced timeframe in the approval of licences.
We are working towards establishing a One-Stop-Shop for plan approvals and to reduce the number of days taken to approve plans to between five to seven days.
“This is still work in progress and through the Local Authority Digital System which we have deployed and pioneered in Zimbabwe, we hope this will revamp the ease of doing business to a greater extent,” said Cllr Tandi.
He said council was developing policies to align with the new thrust and ensure that the local authority becomes the preferred prime investment destination by 2030.
“Council has so far adopted over 30 policies with a view to align the operations of the local authority. We still have a number of policies that are still outstanding which we are very much confident will be completed and adopted soon. An Investment Policy was developed and adopted by council.
“The policy addresses investment opportunities that are available within the city and incentives which can be awarded as guided by parameters set and approved by council. The policy is aimed at creating an enabling investment environment to make the City of Mutare an attractive and prime investment destination by 2030.”
Cllr Tandi said the local authority has set up a budget committee comprised of council employees and other stakeholders to help in crafting inclusive budgets that reflects ratepayers and residents’ aspirations.
He said the committee will help iron out bottlenecks and disagreements that usually follow budget pronouncements.