STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS BY HIS WORSHIP THE MAYOR HELD ON FRIDAY, 20 JULY 2018 AT 5.00 P.M
It is a great pleasure to present the Inaugural State of the City Address (SOCA) for Masvingo where I will share highlights of the journey that we travelled together during our term of office from 2013 to date, in July 2018.
Let me start by bowing to the City of Masvingo residents who entrusted us with the responsibility to serve you during this period.
Allow me to hasten to point out that my Council came into office in 2013 at a time when Council finances were at their lowest, following the Ministerial Debt Write Off Directive which saw debts amounting to $ 3, 311 163.98 being written off.
Apart from reducing the resources available for service delivery and to meet Council obligations to other service providers, the directive had an effect of reducing the revenue collection efficiency from a whopping 71% of billed amount to a paltry 27%!
Allow me to applaud residents who responded to our call to pay their bills. Despite the harsh economic environment, the collection rate has risen to an average of 75% one of the best in the country which is testimony of the good working relationship between residents and your Council.
Over the last two years we have embarked on Gender Sensitive Budgeting, separately consulting Women’s Groups, Disadvantaged Groups to formulate our Budget and embark on projects that improve the welfare of children and our mothers.
Over the last five years the billing efficiency has averaged 100% while the collections were 73% of budget as at 31 December 2018. No wonder why we have never run out of water treatment chemicals.
Debtors and Creditors
The five year period has seen an increase in Debtors from $ 20,271,968.00 as at 31 December 2013 to $ 44, 221,434.63 as at 30 June 2018. Non-payment of Council bills has been one of the major challenges facing Council during this period with institutional debtors contributing the biggest chunk of this amount.
Council has, as a last resort, handed over to Lawyers for Debt Collection, those Debtors who have not responded to our calls to enter payment plans. The non-payment of Council bills has negatively affected the implementation of Capital Expenditure plans.
On the other hand our Creditors were $ 3,149,822 as at 31 December 2013 and have risen to $ 3,859,609.58 as at 30 June 2018 which reflects our commitment to pay those that we owe. The bulk of this figure represents statutory obligations.
Special levies and Infrastructure Development Financing
Before I delve into specific service deliverables fellow citizens, allow me to highlight that in 2015, after citywide consultations, residents of Masvingo agreed to the proposal to introduce a Sewer Levy for the purpose of funding the construction of a dedicated power station to supply electricity to the sewage works and therefore enable continuous pumping and treatment of sewerage. This was collected at a rate of USD 3.00 per household for a period of six months.
Some of you can still vividly remember the strong pungent stench of sewage at Lake Mutirikwi Damwall due to pollution arising from raw sewage discharge into the tributaries feeding the lake during times of electricity load shedding.
The project was completed at a total cost of $ 427,499.04 and the sewage works isolated from the ordinary grid in order to receive continuous power supply. We are now compliant with effluent disposal regulations thus no longer polluting our river system and therefore avoiding penalties from the environment watchdog (EMA). I am also pleased to inform you that a standby generator was installed at Rujeko Sewage Pump Station to provide backup in case of a power fault and ensure sewage treatment during such unplanned periods of power failure or during routine ZESA maintenance periods.
The Roads Levy raised a total of $ 304,439.10 which was used to reseal Ingwe Drive in Rujeko and repair various roads in the commonage notably Haurovi Chinouriri Street in Runyararo West, Jongwe Street, and Charumbira Street. The levies were used to buy two critical pieces of equipment a Grader and Front End Loader (FEL) which are used in road repairs and servicing of stands.
I am pleased to inform you that Council has regained custody of heavy plant & equipment, and operational vehicles that had been attached by the Deputy Sheriff following a protracted labour dispute with employees.
My Council has always prioritised the provision of efficient and affordable municipal services to all our stakeholders and residents. In line with the City’s Strategic Plan 2013-2018, the provision of the following service was top priority on our agenda;
- Clean potable water,
- Solid and waste water disposal
- Road maintenance
- Refuse collection and
- Development Control
Water supply occupies the centre of service delivery. We have been consistently supplying water with every part of the city getting water for at least 10 hours. We are currently supplying 30 Million litres of water per day against estimated demand of around 40 million litres per day hence the rationing.
Our desire is to install adequate capacity to provide all our residents with water 24/7.
Phase 2 of the Water Augmentation Project has been on the cards for a long time owing lack of long term funding. The project scope involves the construction of a duplicate Water Treatment Plant, conveyancing infrastructure and storage tanks at a cost of approximately USD 60 million.
The project would result in Council doubling its potable water supply capacity from the current 30 million litres per day to 60 million litres per day. In the midterm we are therefore prioritising the repair and maintenance of the water pumping infrastructure through reliability centred maintenance activities.
In 2015 my Council engaged development partners who assisted us in the rehabilitation of the waterworks by installing new high lift pumps, new dosing equipment, switchgear as well as rehabilitating the Sewage Treatment works at a cost of approximately USD 3 million. In 2016 Council replaced filter media at Bushmead Water Works at a cost of $100,000.00 in order to improve the quality of treated water.
The quality of our treated water has always been meeting WHO (World Health Organization) and SAZ (Standards Association of Zimbabwe) Standards.
The major challenges affecting water supply include; an old reticulation infrastructure that is always bursting along the mains thus inconveniencing residents and in some cases low water levels as had become the case in 2016-7 when dam water levels had fallen to 16%.