Services offered by local authorities to the public are not for free hence the culture of defaulting payments must stop, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
He made these remarks while officially opening the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) 78th annual conference held in Bulawayo, Friday.
The conference is running under the theme “Urban Local Authorities: Embracing Devolution towards Attaining Vision 2030”.
President Mnangagwa encouraged all citizens to exercise responsibility through paying their bills, citing this would help to improve infrastructure at local level.
“All citizens must cultivate the culture of paying bills and paying for services provided to them. Services offered by local authorities are not for free. The culture of not paying for services must stop. Let us all be responsible citizens. When we travel other countries, we admire how their infrastructures are and it is because the citizens pay their bills,” he said.
He noted that the government will remain steadfast in offering assistance to local authorities in various ways.
“The central government will remain committed to supporting urban and local councils through policy guidance, fiscal transfer, and other financial support systems. It will also assist with capacity building methods to enhance local operations. Devolution funds will continue to be disbursed to you as explained in the budget,” he said.
President Mnangagwa chided corrupt local authority officials, warning them of the full wrath of the law.
“I am deeply disturbed by the high level of corruption and misappropriation of public funds and properties happening at local level, being done by councilors and council officials who play hide and seek in the process of financial managements,” he stated.
“As public servants your duty is to protect such public assets as imposed in your local authorities for the improvement of the welfare of the public community. Those who are prone to corruption, the sun is setting. Do not put your self-interest ahead of serving the electorate. Those who engage in corruption shall be punished. Forewarned is forearmed.”
He added “You must monitor the duties of your fellow councilors and officials in order to rid your councils of this cancer of corruption. Let us in this second republic build a legacy of honesty and transparency for austerity and prosperity of our great country.”
President Mnangagwa implored local authority officials to closely undertake their duties with humility, compassion and patriotism.
He reminded them that they are not masters of the people but are servants of the people who must listen to what the people want, seek to serve them and to meet their needs.