Open-Letter to the City Council and Various Structures and Sectors Responsible for City Governance and Development

Fellow countrymen and authorities to whom this letter is of concern, it is with grave concern as a law-abiding citizen that I present my woe to you, which has tremendously affected the well-being of my community in an abhorrent negative manner. In writing this letter, I am guided by section 59 of the constitution of Zimbabwe (No.20) Act 2013 which gives me, as a citizen, the right to present petitions peacefully.

This letter serves to express my deepest concerns vested in the health, well-being and social welfare of my community, the Mbare Community and its inhabitants. My main concerns being the state of our recently refurbished roads, in particular Seke Street, and the environmental well-being of this precious community which includes environmental nuisances such as solid waste and sewerage which flows unabated and remains unattended for prolonged periods, posing a threat to our health and well-being.

To commence, Seke Street was refurbished in 2018, and it was a wonderful gesture which we welcomed with arms wide-open. However, due the smoothness of this road, drivers have been over-speeding in such a small community and it has posed serious threats to human life. We have had several incidences of little children and at times adults almost getting hit in the middle of the road. At some point in times, a small baby was trying to cross the r oad when she was hit by a kombi last year in 2019, she fell unconscious and the kombi rushed her to hospital. When the mother came, she was helpless and hopelessly crying, but fortunately, the baby survived. And another recent accident where a car drove into a house, luckily, no one was hurt.

Therefore, I am humbly appealing, in line with my constitutional right to present petitions peacefully as vested in section 59 of the constitution of Zimbabwe (No.20) Act 2013, to the city council, Ministry of Public works and national housing and all other relevant stakeholders, to ensure that Seke Street is served with humps immediately to reduce speeding which has posed a threat detrimental to human life.

In addition, my other issue is in regards with the environmental well-being of my community. In presenting this matter, I am guided by Section 73 (1) (a), (b) and (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (No.20) Act, 2013 which gives me the right to an environment which is not harmful to my health, to have my environment protected and to have the State oversea the progressive realisation of this right.

Tsiga ground has, for a long period of time, been haunted with solid waste disposal which exerts an unpleasant smell to the houses nearby, the vendors selling food stuffs, people who pass by and the community at large. One can feel an urge to vomit or spit out saliva because of an unpleasant smell it gives to the environment which is not healthy at all. It has also been a sore-sight to the community outlook and this has heavily affected us as a community. Poor service delivery by our City Council, we have reason to believe, has been the core reason for the disposal of waste at Tsiga Ground.

I therefore, present this issue to Mbare Municipality and the Ministry of Local Authorities; Public Works and National Housing, guided by Public Health Act [Chapter 15:09] Section 83 which states that it is the shall be the duty of every local authority to take all lawful and necessary measure for maintaining its district at all times in a clean and sanitary condition; Section 84 which further reiterates that the Local Authority has to prevent or remedy danger to health arising from unsuitable dwellings; and section 85 (e) which defines nuisances mentioned in section 83 as “any accumulation or deposit of refuse, offal, manure or other matter whatsoever which is offensive or which is injurious or dangerous to health.”

To counter this problem which is detrimental to human settlements and human health, section 10 (1) (b) (ii) of the Environmental Management Act [Chapter 20:27], states the Environment Management Agency has to assist and participate in any matter pertaining to the management of the environment; and in particular—-to regulate and monitor the collection, disposal, treatment and recycling of waste. Section 83 (3) of the same ACT of Parliament, further stipulates that (3) Every person or authority in control of or responsible for the maintenance of any place shall at all times ensure that containers or places are provided which will normally be adequate and suitable for the discarding of litter. Henceforth I am appealing to EMA and the local authorities to see that these laws are not infringed or compromised as they are crucial and essential to the well-being of the Mbare community and all other communities facing the same challenges.

I urge the relevant authorities and stakeholders to ensure the provision of suitable containers in suitable places where we can dispose our waste, which will promptly be emptied by the city council. I also urge them to ensure that refuse collecting vehicles resume their refuse collection services at least twice a week. It will really be helpful in preventing the accumulation of waste which then becomes a health and environmental nuisance.

Furthermore, poor service delivery by the city council has brought about a health hazard which ultimately results in waterborne diseases such as cholera or typhoid. We have experienced sewage flow which remains unabated and unattended for prolonged periods of times. When we call the authorities to have the matter resolved, they simply promise to send a team on site which they do after weeks and weeks of calling them. The health hazards which are caused by such an unprofessional gesture are precarious to the well-being of the Mbare Community inhabitants. At times, when they come to attend this problem, they demand that the affected household inhabitants pay them to fix the problem, which then makes us wonder why we are paying our monthly bills and rates in the first place.

I would like to encourage the city council to ameliorate its service provision with regards to sewage not only in Majubheki/ Joburg lines, but in flats such as Matapi and Mashawasha flats also. I urge them to quickly attend to sewage flow as it poses a threat to the environment and the inhabitants of the settlement as defined in the Public Health Act [Chapter 15:09] Section 85 (b) which defines a nuisance as any stream, pool, lagoon, ditch, gutter, watercourse, sink, cistern, sanitary convenience, urinal, cesspool, cesspit, drain, sewer, dungpit, slop-tank, ashpit or manure heap so foul or in such a state or so situated or constructed as to be offensive or to be injurious or dangerous to health; or any collection of water which may serve as a breeding pool for mosquitoes.

My last appeal in this letter is for the council to constantly serve us with monthly bills such that when they bring a letter of final demands, demanding the payment of overdue finances, the citizens will humbly and not grudgingly accept them. This is in line with Section 274 (1) and (2) of the Urban Councils Act [Chapter 29:15] which stipulates that, “The council shall, by notice in writing not less than thirty days before any rate becomes due and payable, notify the person liable to pay that rate of the amount payable by him….” Henceforth, albeit Section 274 (3) stating that “The failure of any person to receive notice in terms of subsection (2) shall not invalidate the fixing and levying of the rate against the property concerned or affect the liability of such person to pay the rate”, I still humbly appeal to the council to constantly notify its district’s residents, in particular, the Mbare Municipality/ local authority, to serve us with notices of or monthly bills on time, before payments are due. This helps to create a good relationship between the citizens and the council.

As you have noted, this open-letter, my humble constitutional appeal, does not only critic the local authorities and every other involved institutions and stakeholders. It also provides solutions to the problems haunting my community. It is my honest desire to see a flourishing Mbare community henceforth I have penned down my issues, which are of public interest, in line with the Zimbabwe National Human Settlement Policy (2019) section 1.5 (a) which stipulates that “Settlements are about, for and by people with basic human rights” and (b) which also says that it is, “Individual and collective responsibility for developing, maintaining and expanding settlement services and ensuring fully functional settlement institutions. This is within context of implementing social protection measures.”

Participatory planning is the way forward in bringing real and progressive change in Africa and beyond. As a youth in Africa, I am aware of the 6th Aspiration of the Africa Agenda 2063, which insists on “An Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children” and “All the citizens of Africa will be actively involved in decision making in all aspects of development, including social, economic, political and environmental”

Furthermore, I am also guided by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 13 which insists on Climate Action. I believe that Climate Action begins in our communities and not only at a global scale, henceforth, creating a sustainable and healthy environment in my community also has a positive impact in the fight to combat global climate change. This is also corroborated by the United Nations Agenda 21 which clearly states that, “The overall human settlement objective is to improve the social, economic and environmental quality of human settlements and the living and working environments of all people, in particular the urban and rural poor.”

Also, being well-aware of the Environmental Determinism Ideology which states that improving people’s environment results in the improvement of people’s quality of life. This is in line with the State’s National Development Strategy 1 (676) which aims at improving the quality life for Zimbabweans. Henceforth, my petition is aligned to the National and Global Vision.

Now I implore all the relevant stakeholders and institutions involved in matters addressed in this open-letter to take these matters seriously and address them as a matter of urgency.

Concerned Citizen

Kelvin Bimha

Source: Kelvin Bimha

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