Revival of Gweru first priority: Mayor-designate

GWERU — Gweru mayor-designate Charles Chikozho has pledged to turn around the fortunes of the city, saying failure in service delivery should never be an option, as residents have been short-changed for a long time.

Report by Stephen Chadenga

In an exclusive interview with the Southern Eye yesterday, Chikozho, elected councillor for Ward 10 under an MDC-T ticket and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Central region paralegal officer, said water delivery to all corners of the city will be top priority.

He said the situation, where some parts of Mkoba 19 and 14 went for years without running water, should never be entertained again.

“Some suburbs like Mkoba 19, parts of Mkoba 14 and Ridgemont, to mention a few, have not had water coming out of their taps for over three years now,” he said.

“These people have been paying for a service not available and as I come in as mayor, I want to make sure that these people get water from their taps as soon as yesterday.”

The soft-spoken and composed mayor-designate said he already had a plan to tackle the water problems bedevilling the city, particularly failure by the water pumping system to reach high-lying areas.

Chikozho said Gweru had been known in the past as one of the cities in the country that provided clean water to residents. He vowed to maintain that status.

“Even people coming from Harare would tell you that they were comfortable drinking our (Gweru) water straight from the tap without any second thoughts and we want to restore that glory,” he said.

On the issue of refuse collection, Chikozho said the current set-up, where rubbish was strewn all over did not befit Gweru, a city known as the City of Progress.

He said his council would discourage the dumping of litter everywhere through resident participation in keeping the city clean.

“We will acquire more bins. Residents would be roped in through direct participation as far as dumping of litter is concerned,” Chikozho continued.

“As the city improves on refuse collection, this should not be their sole responsibility, as residents and others who have a stake.

“We want to reach a level where one would feel bad when dumping litter in the wrong place.”

Turning to the informal sector, Chikozho said over the years the local authority had not listened to traders’ concerns and instead, imposed its own ideas.

He said the sector was key in turning around Gweru’s economic fortunes and should be engaged.

“We will not impose anything on informal traders,” he said. “We will give them an ear so that their concerns are heard and will desist from imposing anything on them.”

The swearing-in of the mayor and councillors is expected to take place anytime this week, as residents wait with baited breath to see the new team of city fathers and if it will be any different from predecessors, most of whom were expelled from the MDC-T on corruption charges.

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