One of the oldest mining towns, Hwange is the country’s mining hub boasting coal mines that produce an estimated 90 000 tonnes of coal per month. However, the economy and infrastructure in the town does not reflect the abundant resources the area is endowed with.
The mining industry in the town targets high returns as it aims to achieve a 12 billion USD dollar industry by 2030 and at the same time turning the country’s economy into an upper middle-class economy in keeping with the government’s mantra.
Residents assert that the mining activities were supposed to have resulted in good infrastructure and excellent service delivery from local authorities, at the very least. They blame the snail pace of development in the area on incompetence in local authorities.The town has one district hospital which has remained incomplete for years and its roads have become an eyesore mainly due to the mining activities.
“We have petitioned councilors whom we elected into office to rectify this problem of underdevelopment, but our pleas are falling on deaf ears,” said Lincoln Phiri (56) who has been voting for the past 20 years.
Hwange District is run by three local authorities namely the Hwange Local Board, Hwange Rural District Council and Victoria Falls Municipality. Hwange Colliery Company has jurisdiction in a coal concession that is run by seven Councilors under the Hwange Local Board.
Greater Whange Resident Trust Coordinator, Fidelis Chima feels that the seven Councilors in the concession are not serving their purpose. “The Councillors are of no use as far as service delivery is concerned. Service delivery issues are under the jurisdiction of Hwange Colliery Company, Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) and National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ). What is even more shocking is that Hwange District Council collects rates in wards that fall under Hwange Local Board. Councilors in the concession area are just councillors only by title.
The setup is very abnormal as HLB pays councilors in wards where Hwange Rural District council collects rates,” said Chima.
Research done by this publication revealed that the Hwange Local Board has 14 wards of which 1-7 administrative wards under the Hwange Local Board were the only ones receiving devolution funds while the other 7 fall under the concession area under the HCCL, NRZ and ZPC.
Subsequently, the unequal distribution of devolution funds is alleged to be undermining and frustrating councillors in wards that are not receiving devolution funds.
Residents petitioned parliament to address the situation but to date, no solution is in sight.“When we petitioned the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government, they said they were engaging local authorities and central government on modalities of incorporation,” said Chima.
Theresa Mutara, a resident, said the mismanagement of the town was giving rise to voter apathy as residents struggle to see any positives from the elected officials.
“What is causing voter apathy among women in the Hwange concession area are issues to do with devolution and service delivery such as water rationing, use of public toilets and the issue of limited authority on concession councillors due to private companies and their policies,” she said.
The ZPC residential area is in ward 15, Hwange Colliery Company is in control of wards 8, 9, 10,11 and 12 and NRZ has ward 14. These private authorities have their own policies that may not allow the Hwange Local Board (HLB) to implement devolution projects.
“AN amalgamation of private authorities into one administrative local authority may help in the development of the town,” said Chima.
Source: Community Podium