Innocent Ruwende recently in NYANGA
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, has warned local authorities against sacking critical staff through retrenchments arguing it was one of the reasons most cities were failing to provide basic services to residents. Minister Kasukuwere, who was speaking during the just ended Zimbabwe Institute of Rural and Urban Planners (ZIRUP) 2015 Annual School in Nyanga recently, questioned the capacity of local authorities to carry out rationalisation exercises.
“So you wake up and find that the planning department is closed. It is no longer necessary. This thing called rationalisation, restructuring we have to be careful what are we restructuring? Where have you rationalised before you affect other peoples’ professions? “I think that is what happened to the City of Harare. One wakes up and says I think I have a strategy; let us change everything and when you wake up, the whole city is messed up. The planners are on the streets and the land barons take over. When there is a vacuum something will takeover,” he said.
“You push the planners out, the barons will come in.” Minister Kasukuwere said he sympathised with professionals such as town planners who were rendered jobless in the restructuring exercises.
“I want to appeal to town planners and the city and, I know what you have been going through is quite painful. Decisions have been made, which affect other people’s professions maybe because we are ignorant. When ignorance takes over again it’s a problem.” ZIRUP president Mr Percy Toriro, said the profession of town planning has been downgraded in most local authorities.
“We have a challenge in that town planning has been downgraded in a developing economy. In Harare for example you start off with the department which is supposed to shape the vision of the city being relegated initially to a division, and as we speak there isn’t anything to manage planning. You will not be surprised therefore that leadership is lacking in terms of strategic direction of the city.
“One of the challenges we have also faced particularly over the past few years is the settlement challenge around peri-urban areas and inside the cities, that are being driven by land barons. We are not able to regulate because as of now the planning profession is not regulated.
“People are practicing planning without the requisite registration,” he said. The city of Harare last year reduced its workforce from 9 000 to 6 500 through retirement and retrenchment and it was planning to sack 3 000 more employees before the Government intervened.