Notes from the BPRA Service Delivery Conference

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association held its service delivery conference on Sunday 11 September 2011 at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair. The Conference, attended by more than 2000 residents’ leaders from the structures of the association, was meant to provide a platform for interaction between residents and service providers. This is in fulfilment of the mandate of the association which is to ensure full participation of residents in issues of service delivery as a way of ensuring transparency and accountability. Residents got the opportunity to interact with service providers from TelOne, ZESA, and Bulawayo City Council.  Also in attendance were civic society leaders from Crisis Coalition, Bulawayo Agenda, ZESN, ZCTU, National Youth Development Trust, Professional Drivers Association, ZICEA, representatives from political parties, councillors, Members of Parliament and residents associations namely Combined Harare Residents Association, Gwanda Municipality Ratepayers Association, Victoria Falls Combined Residents Association, Plumtree Residents Association and Bulawayo United Residents Association. The following is a summation of issues raised by residents against service providers and the commitments made by the different service providers. 

Issues Raised by Residents
Commitments made by Service provider
Action to be taken by BPRA
·         Disconnection of lines

·         Unavailability of TelOne facilities in some wards

·         Unclear billing system

·         If residents approach the offices and make payment plans, they will be reconnected.

·         Efforts are being made to ensure that the whole of Bulawayo has access to TelOne lines.

·         Residents with billing problems should approach TelOne staff for clarification on their bills.

·         Charging no interest on overdue accounts, telephone extensions and reconnection fees ( to be reviewed when the economy stabilizes),

·         Make follow up consultative meetings to map/monitor commitments and resolutions made by TelOne.

·         Gather grievances and complaints raised by residents and engage TelOne

·         Mobilise residents to monitor TelOne.
·         Failure to follow the monthly schedule of refuse collection.

·         Disconnection of Water for residents

·         Ownership of houses for Mabuthweni and Pelandaba residents

·         Engagement of debt collectors to deal with debts from residents

·         Council should budget for more dams and resuscitation of recreational facilities

·         Council should stop harassment and ensure viability of informal trading.

·         Why is maternity fees still charged at $50 instead of the $30 mentioned by the mayor?

·         A proper refuse collection schedule to be produced and distributed to residents through the structures of the association.

·         Residents need to make payment plans with council staff prior to reconnection.

·         Council will debate it upon receipt of official correspondence from the residents and local councilor.

·         Improving the frequency of refuse collection to at least twice a month compared to once a month which BCC is currently capacitated to do.

·         Residents should push for the resuscitation of recreational facilities in the budget.

·         Cushioning the plight of those who lose their jobs to closing companies by providing them with vending stalls

·         Immediately attending to the problem of maternity fees.

·         BPRA shall distribute refuse collection schedules and monitor the local authority.

·         BPRA shall organize ward consultative meetings to encourage residents to make payment plans.

·         A special meeting to discuss the ownership of houses in ward 13 shall be organized to come up with a clear action plan.

·         BPRA to produce a document on the council’s budget priorities.

·         Keeping track of new vending stalls to be availed by council.

·         Monitoring compliance by council staff

·         Return the thermal power station to the local authority

·         Corruption by ZESA officials

·         The winter load shedding schedule was availed. Why is the summer one not being availed considering that electricity consumption is low during this time of the year.

·         Disconnection of electricity

·         Unavailability of electricity in places such as Emganwini and Cowdray Park.

·         Flawed billing system

·         The return of the Bulawayo Thermal Power Station to the Bulawayo City Council is a policy issue which residents need to push at policy not implementation level.

·         Task-force teams should be set up to ensure that ZESA and residents thwarts corrupt ZESA officials

·         Load shedding schedules will be produced and when they are changes they shall be communicated.

·         Residents need to come to ZESA offices to make arrangement for payments.
·         Making special provisions for the elderly who come forward to make payment arrangements depending on how much they can afford to pay.

·         Work shall begin in the next 6 months to ensure that there is electricity throughout Bulawayo.

·         Setting up a gas power station in Lupane which is part of an extension drive to provide adequate energy in the country.

·         Installing 2 additional machines in each of the country’s 5 power-generating stations (Bulawayo, Hwange, Kariba, Munyati and Harare).

·         ZESA is working on making sure that everybody uses a prepaid meter

·         Residents shall mobilize MPs to push for the retaining of the Bulawayo Thermal Power station.

·         BPRA shall arrange meetings to alert residents on the hazards of bribing ZESA officials.

·         BPRA, through its ward committees shall monitor the timetable

·         BPRA shall organize meetings to encourage residents to pay bills no matter how little it can be.

·         Constant engagement with ZESA shall be maintained to ensure fair billing and availability of electricity.

Bulawayo residents take service providers to task

Residents and stakeholders from the Bulawayo's 29 wards converged at the ZITF on Sunday 11 September 2011 for BPRA Service Delivery Conference which awarded them the opportunity to engage service providers and seek clarity on a number of issues. Officials from TelOne, Bulawayo City Council and ZESA each presented on the state of the services they provide. The conference ran under the theme 'The Right to Know'.

Below is the Service Delivery Conference in pictures.

Residents from various wards arrive at ZITF for the conference

Mr. E. Mlotshwa, a member of the execituve council, says the opening prayer.

Some of the members of the BPRA Executive Council standing  during roll call.

Bhekumusa Moyo recites a poem entitled 'The Right to Know'.

As Moyo recites the poem, residents make a gesture to say
they have the right to know.

A TelOne Official, Mr. T. Ncube, accounts to the residents.

(From left) Byo Mayor, T. P. Moyo, BPRA Patron, G. Moyo and
Exec Council Member, A . Sibanda listen on as service providers report back to residents.

Byo Mayor, T. P. Moyo, presents the city council's state of service delivery

Umdumo WeSizwe entertains residents.

ZESA General Manager, L. Chinaka, informed residents of how
the parastatal is delivering its services

A resident poses a question to the ZESA officials during a plenary session.

BPRA Patron, G. Moyo, addresses residents gathered at ZITF.

Residents queue to ask questions and comment on presentations made
by the city's major service providers.

About 2000 residents thronged Hall 2.

BPRA to hold Service Delivery Conference

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) will on 11 September this year hold a Service Delivery Conference, to run under the theme “the right to know,” that will give residents an opportunity to engage with service providers from different sectors. The conference, which will be attended by two thousand residents’ leaders from all of Bulawayo’s twenty-nine wards, will give residents a platform to engage with representatives from Telone, the Bulawayo City Council (BCC), the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP). At the same time, it will give the service providers an opportunity to update the residents of Bulawayo on what efforts their organisations are making to improve service delivery and the livelihood of the people of Bulawayo.
The conference, which will take place at the International Trade Fair (ZITF) Hall 2 from 0830 hrs to 1630hrs, will place emphasis on plenary sessions that will allow residents to put the service providers to task in line with BPRA’s belief in promoting accountability and participatory local governance. This will be the first time that ordinary residents of Bulawayo will get an opportunity to critically engage with service providers on such a scale.
The conference comes at a time residents have expressed displeasure with the operations of most of the service providers that have been invited. ZESA continues to top the list as residents are appalled by the rampant load shedding by the parastal and the exorbitant tariffs that it is charging. Concerns have also been raised with the fact that the power utility continues to ignore a ruling by the Competition and Tariffs Commission (CTC) that electricity charges be reduced by 43 percent. With regards to BCC, residents have in the past complained about failure by the city fathers to provide affordable housing for the people of Bulawayo. Other areas of concern with the city council include disconnection of water for residents with outstanding rates and the deterioration of standards at city council clinics. With regards to the ZRP, the major concern of residents has been rampant corruption that has in many instances led to the police failing to be the custodians of peace in communities as they accept bribes as opposed to letting the law take its course. Telone on the other hand will have to explain its billing system as residents do not understand how they accrued high rates following the introduction of the multi-currency regime in February 2011. At the conference, the service providers are expected to address these issues and update the residents on other projects that they are undergoing in order to improve their services.
Last year, BPRA hosted a similar conference, which was dubbed the Social Accountability Conference. The Social Accountability Conference brought cabinet ministers from the Matabeleland region - Ministers David Coltart, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, Moses Mzila Ndlovu and Gorden Moyo - to give feedback to residents on pertinent governmental issues. BPRA holds such conferences as part of its mandate to improve the livelihood of the people of Bulawayo through fostering resident’s participation in local governance and service delivery and through promoting a culture of transparency and accountability in the operations of holders of public office.

BPRA to engage ZBC over licences

BPRA is in the process of penning a position paper on Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation Television licences in the wake of stepped up efforts by the country’s sole broadcaster to get residents to purchase the licenses. ZBC employees have in recent months been going around residential areas in Bulawayo informing residents that they should pay their licence fees, pegged at $50 within a week, and also pay an additional $20 as a fine for late payment. The rationale behind the writing of the position paper is to pressure the broadcaster to review its licence fees downwards and improve the quality of programming. It is BPRA’s contention that the license fees that ZBC is demanding from Zimbabweans are unjustified considering the quality of programming by the corporation and the high unemployment in the country. It is a well known fact that in the last eleven or so years, as the country’s economy collapsed, ZBC has been failing to access programmes with viewers being bombarded with repeats of very old programmes that have lost relevance in this modern world. In the same vein, ZBC has during the same period become an appendage of certain ideological positions, airing numerous propagandistic programmes. BPRA believes that reforms are long overdue at the corporation.

BPRA position on toll gate fees

BPRA has produced a document proposing that the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development introduce a more transparent method of administering money collected from toll gates that will cater for the needs of areas at grassroots level. This comes amid criticism of the fact that Bulawayo and surrounding areas were allocated paltry funds despite the fact that roads leading to Bulawayo such as the Beitbridge Road and the Victoria Falls Road are among the busiest in the country.  The proposal, to be submitted to the transport ministry argues that a clear framework should be put in place to govern the allocation of funds to local authorities to avoid a situation whereby the Minister has the power to distribute the funds in a partisan manner or distribution of the funds does not match needs. The proposal in essence stresses the need for transparency in the distribution of the funds so that a level of fairness and development orientation is achieved.

Final class in development programme to graduate

The final class in the Residents Leadership Development Programme will graduate on the 11th of September 2011 at the Service Delivery Conference set to take place at the Zimbabwe International trade Fair (ZITF) Hall 2. Under the Resident Leadership Development Programme, BPRA has trained residents’ leaders in all of Bulawayo’s 29 wards in leadership, documentation, peace building, elections, local governance and public policy and advocacy. The trainings were aimed at empowering residents of Bulawayo to participate in local governance and have an influence in shaping their livelihood. This is in line with BPRA’s quest to improve the livelihood of the people of Bulawayo and make the city a first choice place of residence in the country. Residents’ leaders from wards 1, 4, 5, 6 ,7, 9, 10, 16 and 18 will be graduating on the day. Residents leaders from the other twenty wards graduated earlier this year at ceremonies that were held in February and May respectively.      

Resolutions of the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association’s General Council

Association to tackle the city’s problems
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) held its General Council Meeting on Sunday 14 August 2011 at the Cillas Conference Centre in Bulawayo. The General Council was attended by 80 residents who hold the posts of chairperson and Secretary for Administration in the BPRA committees from each of Bulawayo’s 29 wards, the Executive Council and the Board. The General Council was held to evaluate the activities of the association so far in 2011 and to map out strategies for the future. The General Council made the following resolutions on pertinent developments in the City of Bulawayo. These recommendations shall guide the programming of the association in the coming months.

Teachers’ incentives
Problem - It was noted that teachers incentives are problematic as they have made it difficult for parents, hard-hit by Zimbabwe’s tough economic climate, to send their children to school. It was also noted that some schools were charging inflated teachers’ incentives in order for teachers to pocket more.
Resolution - The gathering resolved that incentives remain necessary in retaining teachers in light of the economic situation in the country that is making it difficult for the government to give teachers salaries above the poverty datum line. In light of that, it was decided that the position of BPRA on teacher’s incentives should be that parents should continue subsidising teachers’ allowances. However it was stressed that the incentives should only be ten percent of approved school levies and that efforts should be made to ensure that there is no corruption in schools in the handling of teachers’ incentives.

Home Affairs – Police corruption and inefficiency of the registrar’s office
Problem - The general council noted with concern poor services at the Registrar Generals office that was making it difficult and cumbersome for Bulawayo residents to access passports, birth certificates and national identity documents. Dismay was also raised over corruption by the police, especially the traffic section, that the gathering argued was responsible for the carnage on Bulawayo roads.
Resolution - The general council agreed that BPRA should engage with the Ministry of Home Affairs over continued corruption by police officers, especially in the traffic section. The gathering also resolved that the association should lobby the Ministry of Home Affairs to improve issuing of birth certificates, passports and national identity documents.

Industry, Marginalisation and the water crisis
Problem - The General Council also expressed dismay over the defunct state of Bulawayo Industries that had increased unemployment in the city. This dearth of industry in Bulawayo was attributed to marginalisation. Concerns were also raised about the failure of the government and the local authority to come up with lasting solutions to Bulawayo’s water woes.
Resolution - The general council resolved that BPRA should weigh in on the debate on marginalisation and de-industrialisation of Bulawayo. The gathering unanimously agreed that it is no myth that Matabeleland is marginalised, but a fact that should be dealt with. It was decided that the association should react to insults that the people of Matabeleland are lazy when the reality is that opportunities are scarce in the region due to systematic sidelining. The gathering decided that the association should engage in concerted efforts to engage policy makers from the region on the pertinent issue of re-industrialisation of Bulawayo.

Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA)
Problem - The gathering expressed dismay over the failure of ZESA to ease load shedding and follow the ruling of the Competition Tariffs Commission (CTC) to reduce tariffs by 43 percent. Concerns were also raised about the failure of the power utility to stick to the load shedding time table.
Resolution - Delegates resolved that further action should be embarked in to get ZESA to comply with the CTC ruling to reduce tariffs by 43 percent. It was noted that contrary to reports in the media in February this year, ZESA had not complied with the CTC ruling, but rather effected a discount on rates charged between February 2009 and February 2011. It was agreed that the reality on the ground was that tariffs were still exorbitant in light of continued load shedding; hence there was a need for urgent action to force the Parastatal to comply with the ruling of the commission and reduce load shedding. Proposals given included continuing with legal action and demonstrating against the power utility. 

BPRA declaration on the Constituency Development Fund

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA), over the month of May 2011 has been carrying out consultative meetings on the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) where it has been bringing together residents, Members of Parliament and Councilors to dialogue on the administration of the fund. The meetings have been a response by the residents of Bulawayo for accountability by elected public position holders as most of them demonstrated little or no interest whatsoever on reporting back to communities.
A brief overview of the fund
The Constituency Development Fund (CDF) was introduced by the Minister of Finance, Minister Tendai Biti in his National Budget presentation for 2010 in December 2009. In terms of the fund, each of the country’s 210 constituencies was allocated US$50 000 which