Abel Zhakata Senior Reporter
AFRICA University has partnered with three local authorities in Manicaland in a joint high-level working task-force whose mandate is to transform service delivery in the respective municipalities and improve people’s standard of living.
Serious consultations are in progress between the university and officials from Mutare, Rusape and Chipinge councils. In an interview last Friday on the sidelines of a universities’ task-force meeting held at Old Mutare, AU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Munashe Furusa, said the United Methodist Church-related institution of higher learning engaged the local authorities in a bid to improve service delivery and ensure effective and efficient use of resources in the municipalities.
“We have already had our meetings. A team from our campus has met with teams from the respective councils. From the meetings, we formed another taskforce comprising officials from AU and the councils,” he said.
“The responsibility of AU at the moment is to facilitate conversation that will provide us with an understanding of what is needed to transform our councils so that they can serve our communities well.
“We have identified projects, the most urgent projects that are needed to transform these urban councils. The councils are very forthcoming and showing a lot of commitment.” Prof Furusa said the university had also sent a team of specialists to meet with each council separately so that they get a deep understanding of the problems bedevilling the municipalities.
“We have had a second round of meetings where we sent our teams of specialists to meet with each council separately. We have had meetings with Chipinge and Mutare. Rusape is next in line shortly.
“Some of the projects are to do with service delivery. One of the projects is waste management. We want to improve the processes in terms of using technology to do management work in councils and data analytics by using data to predict certain things; to look at the water situation. So there are number of areas that are being developed and a report of our engagements will be produced very soon,” he said.
Prof Furusa said the three local authorities were open to improvement and showed commitment to improving service delivery. The chairman of the universities’ taskforce, Professor Levi Nyagura, who is University of Zimbabwe Vice-Chancellor, said most councils were facing management challenges.
“Some of the problems councils are facing have nothing to do with money. They have to re-organise their administration and this might involve hiring the correct people to do the job. They have to properly budget resources they have and the ability to priorities their core business.
“In any organisation, if you have limited financial resources, you must look at business activities that have the greatest impact. It is pointless to focus on something where the impact is negligible,” he said.