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Zimbabwe Councils Blame Gov't Meddling for Poor Service Delivery

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai met Friday with executive mayors and council chairpersons who complained the coalition government is frustrating their efforts to improve service delivery.

Local authorities say central government is excessively interfering in their activities and in most cases also failing to pay for services rendered.

Mr. Tsvangirai was accompanied by Finance Minister Tendai Biti to the meeting where 32 local authorities were represented. Executive mayors and council chairpersons from both rural and urban areas were also present.

The local authorities also accused the army and police of threatening council employees at military cantonment areas when they seek passage to record or collect revenues for services rendered.

They also blasted the police for allegedly failing to reign in Chipangano, the Zanu PF-aligned youth militia group in Harare which has seized council properties in the city.

The local authority representatives also accused some government ministers of corruption.

They also complained the government, which owes the local authorities about US $42 million, was the major result residents are experiencing erratic service delivery.

The councils themselves have come under fire from residents for lack poor service delivery, especially in the refuse, water and sanitation area resulting in recurring cholera cases being recorded from time to time.

Harare was castigated for the outbreak of cholera that claimed more than 4,000 lives throughout the country in 2008.

Sangria spokesman Luke Tambourines told VOA the Prime Minister was concerned by the alleged threats being directed at council employees by army officers at the barracks, promising to forward grievances brought to his attention before cabinet.

Massing Mayor Fe mus Shakable, also president of the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe, said local authorities hope cabinet will address their concerns.