THE Harare City Council (HCC) has resolved to set aside land at its cemeteries to honour those who would have dedicated themselves to the development of the city.
The resolution is captured in minutes of a special council meeting dated February 3, 2016.
“Some members expressed the view that part of the (city’s cemeteries) be reserved for civic honour, that is people who have contributed to the betterment of the city such as council employees, journalists, councillors among other persons”, the minutes read in part.
The civic honour is a replica of the National Heroes status accorded to individuals who sacrificed their lives to bring political freedom to Zimbabwe.
At the meeting, it was resolved that the acting town clerk Josephine Ncube should lobby for more land from central government and that council reserves, in future, part of the land at newly identified cemeteries for the civic honour.
Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni confirmed the plans this week.
“There has been a gap in civic honours, but the city now stands ready to honour posthumously residents who would have excelled in any aspect of human endeavour. The criteria and modus operandi are yet to be finalised and views from the community on the way forward are most welcome,” he said.
While noting that the idea was noble, residents believe that it should not be a priority in a crumbling city struggling to deliver on its mandate.
Harare Residents Trust chairperson, Precious Shumba, said the controversy that has befallen the selection of national heroes has significant potential to affect and tarnish the civic honour.
“This is essentially an egocentric initiative where people have to be made to feel good on earth, but the reality is this is not a priority for residents. The mayor must focus the city on tangible deliverables like water and sanitation, improvement of our accountability systems in council, attending to the road network, ensuring that the council produces audited accounts and strengthening the council committees’ oversight role in delivering services commensurate with the rates being charged and paid by ratepayers,” said Shumba.
Local government expert, Kudzai Chatiza, said while the idea was noble its implementation should not distract the city from improving service delivery.
“I understand both sides of the argument. However, the two are not mutually exclusive. A good council has to do both and more. Non-delivery of services has to be analysed independently, but also interdependently. We cannot define services narrowly to mean water, roads, sewerage and street lighting when a council has at least 60 functions. The honouring may trigger good things for other areas of council’s work,” he said.
Combined Harare Residents Association director, Mfundo Mlilo, concurred.
“Well, it depends what the level of honour is. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the efforts of those who have done well and I do not see how that would distract the City from delivering good services.”
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