Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
THE Roman Catholic Church has bemoaned deterioration of service delivery by local authorities in most rural communities in Matabeleland region saying this is contributing to under development of the region.
Roman Catholic Church Bulawayo Archbishop Alex Thomas said when the church visits some of the rural communities it listens to grievances from members of the public.
In an interview, Archbishop Thomas said it is the church’s duty to be the voice of the voiceless with most of the grievances coming from people from Matobo, Bulilima, and Nkayi districts in Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North.
“When we conduct outreach programmes to people in rural areas, we hear them complaining about increase in rates’ payments but these increases are not reflected in the improvement of services. The roads are not graded for a long time. After the rains, the roads have become impassable. This has caused damages to vehicles and sometimes causing avoidable accidents. Some bridges have collapsed while gullies have developed. Some roads and have deep pits causing danger to the pedestrians and motorists,” said Archbishop Thomas.
“Most of the growth points in rural areas have no water and ablution facilities. And this leads to poor hygiene and the spread of diseases. Drainages are blocked and waste is not disposed of properly.”
He said declining services is also contributing to civil servants and development agents shunning the remote areas.
“Also due to lack of transport teachers and nurses are shunning rural schools and hospitals and this contributes to things such as poor pass rates leading to under development and poverty. Also due to the poor state of the roads, Non-Governmental Organizations and other development agents are shunning those area leading to lack of humanitarian services,” he said.
Archbishop Thomas said communities also have raised concerns over delays in accessing services including plan approvals.
“This frustrates investors leading to under development of the area. Customer services is very poor, the elderly are not given respect, dip tanks for cattle are not well managed leading to outbreak to cattle diseases,” said Archbishop Thomas.
“There are also concerns that a lot of funds are being used for salaries and allowances while maintenance of public infrastructure stalls. Some people say the council-run schools are not attended to and teachers shun teaching in those areas. The people also complain about improper allocation of land and high rentals contributing to people not developing their areas.”
He called on rural local authorities to be transparent in the communities they operate in and also use revenues to transform areas under their jurisdiction.