Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Order has been restored by central Government in areas under the four local authorities that make up Harare Metropolitan Province after illegal settlements had sprouted particularly in wetlands and other undesignated locations, driven by land barons, Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution responsible for Harare Metropolitan Province, Engineer Oliver Chidawu, says in his half-yearly report.
Although the four authorities are run by opposition councils, the Second Republic under President Mnangagwa has made it clear that the central Government will not discriminate against anyone and that urban people have just as much right to protection from fraudulent criminals and to having proper services and title deeds as anyone else.
Minister Chidawu said Harare Metropolitan Province had embraced the call for building an empowered upper middle income economy by 2030, anchored by the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
Minister Chidawu’s province covers the City of Harare, Chitungwiza Municipality, and the Epworth and Ruwa Local Boards.
“As Government we remain focused on ensuring governance and compliance to the Urban Councils Act and the Regional Town and Country Planning Act in our local authorities together with all other cross-cutting policies and statutory instruments,” he said.
“The year 2020 was a period of bringing back order and sanity to our province. We successfully launched various clean-up campaigns and advocacy against illegal settlements and land barons, particularly in wetlands and undesignated locations.
“This year has been filled with both challenges and progress on the provincial governance front.”
In the same report, Harare Metropolitan Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Mr Tafadzwa Muguti, who provides the administrative back-up, said his office had been a vehicle under which central Government was driving the decentralisation and devolution agenda.
“Harare Metropolitan Province is estimated to be home now to at least 4 million people at most. This has brought about a higher demand for goods and services, not to mention the need for better infrastructure such as roads, housing and social amenities,” he said.
Mr Muguti said the NDS1 provided a baseline for the provincial economic development plan to address a number of areas which include resuscitation of social infrastructure across all local authorities, thus cultivating a culture of social inclusion and beneficiation in the province.
Harare Metropolitan Province, said Mr Muguti, should continue to provide significant contribution to the country’s gross domestic product, showing the people and businesses in the area are productive and need to be backed.
As of 2018, the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency reported that Harare Metropolitan Province contributed 39,5 percent of the country’s GDP.
“We estimate that this contribution should be around 67 percent as of 2020. We envisage lucrative investments into our manufacturing sector and continued growth in our services sector such as financial services, telecommunications and professional services,” said Mr Muguti.
“As a province, we have worked tirelessly over the reported period to address cooperation dynamics with all stakeholders. It is our belief that the current environment which is non-toxic has brought about peace and unity in the province.
The engagement of non-governmental organisations and other critical stakeholders has promoted sound working partnerships, which have now translated into working programmes in most communities.
Over the last 20 years, Harare Metropolitan Province has seen its critical infrastructure deteriorate and it took the coming in of the Second Republic to rescue the situation by providing resources under the devolution agenda.
The Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme has also assisted local authorities with funding to rehabilitate all urban roads whilst Government, through the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, is addressing the rehabilitation of major national roads, bridges and constructing the Mbudzi flyover.
Mr Muguti said the province recently teamed up with the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency to train local authorities on the importance of the ZIDA Act and how the province could remove bureaucracy, improve the ease of doing business and attract investors through public-private-partnerships.
On service delivery by Harare City Council, Mr Muguti said more still needed to be done.
He said the city is presently operating with six fire engines against a requirement of 25 to cover greater Harare.
“The city is operating with only two ambulances out of the desired 32 to service the greater Harare. The city is failing to raise £68 000 for the shipment of four donated fire engines, and other emergency services equipment,” said Mr Muguti.