Our plan is to stabilise Harare: Mafume

Recently re-elected Harare mayor Jacob Mafume

NEWSDAY reporter Sharon Buwerimwe (ND) caught up with recently re-elected Harare mayor Jacob Mafume (JM) for an interview to discuss his plans after bouncing back into office.

The mayoral post became vacant following the recall first of ward 18 councillor Ian Makone and then that of ward 36 councillor Lovejoy Chitengu by Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) self-proclaimed interim secretary-general Sengezo Tshabangu.

Chitengu was elected last month following the recall of Makone. Mafume becomes the third Harare mayor since the August elections. Below are excerpts of the interview.

ND: What are your plans as the new mayor? Harare is grappling with a cholera outbreak. Do you have plans to curtail the disease?

JM: The first plan is to stabilise the city. We are in a dire situation around issues of water. We need to produce a certain amount of water that allows people to use the precious liquid at their homes, so the first task is to be able to see the efforts of our own council and create an ecosystem that is able to provide water for everyone.

Secondly, the issues of waste management, we need a quick programme to be able to deal with waste.

The accumulation of waste has become a huge problem and we need a rapid results programme that we are going to launch shortly to be able to deal with the issues of waste tractors.

We want the government to allow us to use the tractors that came from Belarus. These tractors are sitting on a farm somewhere.

I think someone from the government thinks that tractors can give birth and they are keeping them there to mate with each other. I don’t know whatever reason it is.

But we do hope that they can release them so that we can use them to carry litter before they degrade beyond being able to be used.

We are anxiously waiting for Finance minister Mthuli Ncube to approve our borrowing powers so that we can get on with the work. So those are the priorities currently.

ND: Last week, nearly 15 houses were flooded in the Budiriro 4 Paddock area as well as Kuwadzana Extension. The ZRP Sub-Aqua Unit was deployed to these areas, where 19 families were rescued from their flooded homes. What are you planning to do about the settlement issue?

JM: We are also addressing the issue of settlements. We know there are floods, people are living in areas where they are not supposed to be living. I also visited Budiriro to see the houses. Housing is a city problem and a national problem.

We need to find a solution around housing. Firstly, we need to deal with the approval of our houses. What we define as a house is now a colonial structure.

We need to change our materials, we need to reduce the cost for someone building a house so that they don’t stay in shacks.

So we are going to ask our planning department to experiment with new methodologies — panel building, a house needs to cost less than US$5 000 for it to be a low-cost housing.

We need to put up a house with very limited amounts of money and I think technology has improved the extent that we can build a decent low-cost house.

Our country does not experience earthquakes, does not have instability, therefore, there is really no need of building some of these monuments to nothing.

ND: In October, government promised to purchase one-month supply of water treatment chemicals to alleviate the water crisis and the current cholera outbreak. Has it fulfilled its promise yet?

JM: We want to encourage the government department and anyone who wants to assist in critical areas before they make an announcement to sit down with us so that we can make joint announcements and say things that make sense to the residents.

We thought that was meant for the Press and not necessarily meant to mean anything on the ground.

What we need per month is 350 megalitres of water for us to be able to give a decent supply of water throughout the city.

We have an installed capacity of 900 megalitres of water from all our plants combined. Harare, Norton and Chitungwiza, Epworth and Ruwa need an excess of 1 200 megalitres of water per day.

So, if you want to supply water treatment chemicals for one month, you are looking at those figures. So these are huge bills.

So what we need to do is to meet with a team from the government and come up with a roadmap that makes sense and a purchasing plan that makes sense.

What I would encourage the government to do instead of handing out and giving out disbursements, we will encourage them to pay the combined debt that the city is owed by everyone. We are owed over ZWL$580 billion.

In other words, we have services that we have rendered worth that amount that we have paid in advance, which money we have not been able to recover from government, private sector and commerce.

We urge the government to look into the process of paying us our dues and then we can talk about getting more money to pay for the chemicals.

ND: Can you give a time frame on when Rufaro Stadium will be reopened?

JM: My tenure was interrupted and the work around Rufaro Stadium seems to have stopped dramatically, but we are almost there.

As you know, it’s now a multi-purpose stadium. There are shops around the stadium and what’s left for the local games to begin are the toilets and the changing rooms.

Those are about to be completed and we should be completing them in the next two to three weeks.

We are going to hold a friendly match between the big teams in the next two weeks, which will herald that the stadium is now open.

The parking bays are now finished, the ground is immaculate. For international matches, we are going to work around the programme on the CAF report to then finish the repairs so that international matches can resume.

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