Mutare residents have expressed ignorance on the existence of a municipality Client Charter reportedly adopted in 2013, raising doubts on the effectiveness of the document expected to guide the local authority in its service delivery.
By Donald Nyarota
The charter initially adopted in 2013 has been labelled a draft document by current Mutare Mayor, Councilor Blessing Thandi who said residents are welcome to make inputs.
“As we discuss (provisions of the Charter) make sure that we are aware that this a draft document not yet fully adopted by council. Even if it is on the council website it is still a draft and any input should be guided by that,” said Thandi.
Despite this deflection that council has not adopted the charter, it was clear that local ratepayers and stakeholders are oblivious of the document, touted as the best in Zimbabwe.
During virtual discussions hosted by Peace and Capacity Development Foundation (PACDEF), a local NGO which is raising awareness on the MCC Client Charter, stakeholders expressed ignorance of its existence.
PACDEF is running a project, Strengthening Gender Sensitive service delivery in Mutare, using targeted grassroots lobbying and advocacy to track council expenditure. Project scope also tracks how council services impact on women and gender sensitive budgeting principles.
Lloyd Chisese, PACDEF monitoring and evaluation officer, said residents must leverage the Client Charter and hold council accountable to its own standards to demand quality and gender sensitive services.
Chisese said even in draft format, the Client Charter can still enhance citizen participation in local governance affairs, and also be used as a litmus test on transparency and accountability pronouncements.
“What is key from this Service Charter is the fact that transparency is coming up in all segments in the document means that the City appreciates the necessity of transparency in managing public services.
“This is their own standard that we are going to use to measure and gauge their performance as residents and ratepayers,” said Chisese.
In the Client Charter council pledges to improve quality of life of the Mutare residents in a transparent matter, turn the city in a prime investment centre and provision of services including housing, portable water, infrastructure and health care.
Council also commits to similar high standards in providing social amenities, waste management promotion of planning service, regulation and enforcement of its by-laws and to adhere to principles of good governance.
Joseph Kauzani, National Association of Nongovernmental Organization (NANGO) Eastern region coordinator, said government across all levels must also adopt similar service charters to commit, in black and white, to providing quality requisite services.
Kauzani said it was important for authorities to embrace current trajectory for of social accountability in all government departments and municipalities to commit to deliver quality, affordable and accessible services to citizens.
“We need to interrogate how we can rebuild relations between ratepayers and the municipality using this charter.
“Unfortunately, from my assessment is seems as if most residents are not aware of this Charter and based on the tenets of public social accountability, it becomes a cause for concern since it will be a true reflection of an unhealthy relationship and lack of a progressive social contract between the Service Providers and the Ratepayers,” said Kauzani.
“This is public document that is accessible to everyone who resides in the city, it sets the basis of the services that council delivers, we are the end users of the resource as such we should enjoy services.”