Lockdowns compromise Local Authorities’ service provision efforts

COVID-19 induced lockdowns have compromised Local Authorities’ service provision efforts, mostly due to low streams of revenue generation.

These sentiments were highlighted by Mr. Sibanda from Lupane Local Board during a Stakeholder Engagement Meeting that was conducted by Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) together with Sibanye Animal Welfare Conservancy Trust (SAWCT).

“The Local Authority has been faced with challenges in its service delivery efforts, mainly as a result of low streams of revenue collection amid the COVID-19 period. This has been exacerbated by the fact that people also can’t pay rates because they have also been negatively affected by the lockdowns economically,” said Mr. Sibanda.

He went on to discuss some of the challenges that the Local Authority has been facing such as failure to conduct meeting with the community.

“The Local Authority has also been unable to conduct quarterly meetings where the council should interact with residents, and in trying to use online platforms, some have experienced network challenges while others have no smart phones. Hence, for the same reason, we failed to conduct budget consultation, ” he added.

As part of the initiatives to disseminate information to residents, the local authorities came up with a system that they deem effective in communicating with stakeholders.

“In terms of trying to come up with a way forward, we recently installed the housing module. It’s a computerisation program which seeks to communicate with the community in the form of SMSes.”

He went on to explain some of the problems they are currently facing in this system.

“You will realise that most of our clients did not leave active phone numbers, so we are trying to work on that system to input all our clients into that housing module so that when we have a meeting, we can use it in the form of SMSes to communicate and send messages.”

As a mechanism that was initiated by Lupane Local Board, Sibanda highlighted that there was need to consult the residents.

“We will consult the residents who will then determine if that is the method, they want us to use because we believe the involvement of the community is very important in decision making.”

In this era where public gatherings are not permitted, it is important to have such systems put in place to ensure residents are up to date on what is happening in their locality and get authentic information from the Local Authorities.

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