Mutare Residents have expressed optimism over city efforts to improve accountability at Civic Centre through an interactive feedback online platform for ratepayers.
City of Mutare recently collaborated with Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) under the Local Authority Digital Systems (LADS) to create a new system of reporting and tracking enquiries.
This innovation under the Customer Relationship Management System, is undergoing a test run and is expected to enhance accountability in service delivery at the local municipality.
A residents representative group applauded city fathers for taking positive strides to address public concerns and improve engagement with ratepayers.
David Mutambirwa, programs manager for Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Association (MURRA) commended the municipality for proactive measures to enhance accountability by giving residents an interactive platform to file complaints.
He said the latest innovation will also feed into the budget committee, which starting this year has representatives of residents, youths, business and public interest group, and ensure that council is guided by public sentiment.
“Of late the council has tried to embrace accountability in a significant way. Communication has significantly increased between the service provider and the consumers.
“For me the new platform which is similar to MDATA and the establishment of a budget committee provides an opportunity to enhance not only only accountability, but may give birth to social cohesion and demystifies perceptions and suspicions between the service provider and consumers.
“There also several social media platforms which are being used to engage management on service delivery issues which was something unheard of in the past years,” said Mutambirwa.
Council has also allayed fears that the service could turn into a white elephant like a similar project, Mutare City Data for Accountability (MDATA) sms hotline project which failed to roll out.
MDATA, was introduced in collaboration with Peace and Capacity Development Foundation (PACDEF) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) as technical partners.
Council spokesperson, Spren Mutiwi said the LADS goes beyond the MDATA as it places power in the residents that will initiate complaints and provide a reference number for tracking.
Mutiwi said with such innovations council is ensuring that residents and stakeholders access better and integrated communication processes which enables real time tracking of progress on issues raised.
“Its a not a repeat of MDATA, project failed to kick off because of limited funds, the innovation is very much different. The system auto generates a reference number unlike the previous innovations which failed to take off.
“The new innovation pioneered by city has become a national Project and that alone speaks volume of the seriousness in terms of what is being done. Its very flexible and it makes council more accountable to residents and stakeholders.
“Residents will be able to track their complaints or queries through the reference number and they are the ones who certify that the job has been done and completed,” said Mutiwi.
United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust (UMRRT) director Edson Dube, was coy on endorsing the platform although he acknowledged council for this latest innovation to improve accountability.
“They say the platform is online and it has been developed with HIT not residents. Hope it’s a good one, but it’s a great initiative overall and a step in the right direction,” he said.