Service Delivery Themometer
The transport sector in the country remains in a shambolic shape despite the small strides the country has taken in improving the state of the economy since the inception of the inclusive government. Most worrying of all is the failure by the government to provide people with viable, affordable and safe transport, especially in the urban areas. At the moment, residents are peeved by the recklessness exhibited by transport operators, especially kombi drivers. Kombi drivers have no respect for traffic regulations while it is very common for them to team up with their conductors to abuse commuters, either verbally or physically. Sometimes commuters are dropped far away from their destinations, while sometimes the kombis take long routes, inconveniencing commuters in the process. There is thus a need for the government to come up with alternative transport that will prioritise the safety of commuters, and that will be affordable and time conscious. The government could learn from the metro transport system in South Africa or simply reintroduce ZUPCO buses. At the same time, there is a need for kombi drivers to be policed to ensure that commuters are treated with respect and to ensure that safety precautions are taken all the time. Residents are disturbed that the traffic police that are charged with protecting civilians in the roads are not doing their jobs but rather soliciting for bribes from kombi drivers. The government should thus investigate the conduct of the traffic police and deal with corruption as soon as possible.
The city council is still failing to adequately collect refuse, leading to a scenario whereby residents have no choice but to resort to illegal dumpsites. This is having adverse effects on the environment. In the same vein, the city council is failing to keep the city clean, with rubbish strewn all over the place, both in the city centre and in the residential areas. Batch Street Bus Terminus, popularly known as Egodini, is particularly dirty with fruit peels, empty containers and food wrappings lying around. There is a need for the city council to come up with a plan to improve cleanliness in the city. While the council spends scarce resources harassing vendors who are merely trying to make a living in these harsh economic conditions, such resources could be channelled towards cleaning of the city. Keeping Bulawayo clean is not only a matter of the environment or health, but is also a matter of pride as Bulawayo was once hailed as the cleanest city in Africa. For that legacy to be maintained, the city fathers should think outside the box and introduce measures to keep the city clean.
There has been a noted increase in the numbers of beggars, both children and adults, able bodied and disabled, in the streets of Bulawayo in recent months. While in the past these were confined to the city centre, these days residential areas have also been invaded by beggars. This raises the question of whether the social welfare departments, in both the government and the city council are failing to provide for the vulnerable. More needs to be done by the government and the city council to cater for the needy, especially in light of the high unemployment being experienced in the country. There is also a need for social welfare efforts to be geared towards addressing problems arising from HIV/AIDS such as child headed families and families headed by senior citizens with no income. While the department of social welfare may claim to be striving to provide for such people, there is need for decentralisation to allow poor people to access social welfare officers from their areas. Also, the application process should be made less cumbersome and applications processed more speedily in order to address the needs of more vulnerable people.
It remains a mystery to residents how tax money obtained from workers throughout the country in the form of the AIDS Levy is being used to fight the pandemic and improve the livelihood of the infected and the affected. This is because the country is still failing to care for those with the disease while scores of HIV/AIDS orphans are not getting any form of aid from the government. Due to this, residents have questioned the effectiveness of the AIDS Levy and whether or not it is actually being used to fight the AIDS scourge. There is thus a need for accountability in the AIDS Levy to ensure that taxpayer’s money is used accordingly. Above this, the government should take measures to improve availability of Anti-retroviral Drugs (ARVs) and other forms of medication for people living with the disease. Importantly, the government should invest more in HIV/ AIDS education as AIDS experts and activists say when it comes to the disease, prevention is the best way to go.
Over two years into the inclusive government, very little has been done to improve the quality of news in public media and to open up the airwaves for other media houses. This is a disservice to the people of Zimbabwe as they need access to balanced and impartial news on critical political and social issues in order to make decisions. Currently the media in the country are polarised along political ideologies, with the public media being highly biased in favour of ZANU PF while the private media is biased towards the interests of the opposition MDC. There is therefore a need for media space to be created, particularly in the broadcasting sector where the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) is operating as a monopoly and denying people balanced news. Plurality in the sector could improve the quality of news and expose people to more diverse views and opinions. Licensing of new radio stations could open space for community radio stations that could play a vital role in development.