By Kenias Chivuzhe
Zimbabwe’s engagement and re-engagement drive being spearheaded by the Second Republic is yielding positive results, with the once hostile European Union pledging to support Zimbabwe’s Vision 2030 of an upper middle-income society.
Speaking during a visit to Mutare to monitor the implementation of the Local Authorities Database System (LADS) project by the city council, EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe, His Excellence Jobst Von Kirchmann spoke highly on vision 2030 as he made a commitment to support the government in achieving its targets.
“Today, we have been looking at the (Local Authorities Database System) LADS project and I must say I am impressed. As the EU, we could contribute over 2.5 million Euros towards the project. This project, which essentially digitalises administrative procedures, has led to an increase of over 100 percent in terms of revenue collection. We have initiated an engagement with the city fathers that we start working on areas of support for 2023 in the city of Mutare,” said Ambassador Kirchmann.
He added, “We can work together in with the government on many areas and I have recently launched other projects like on gender-based violence and on climate smart agriculture where the European and the EU member states supports the national development strategy one. We would like to support the 2030 vision of Zimbabwe to become an upper middle-income economy and we currently identifying all the areas which we can work together.”
The project was developed by the Harare Institute of Technology and is co-funded by the local authority and the EU, with a lot of work still to be done in implementation.
Commonwealth Local Government Forum Project Manager Leopold Mboroma said, “LADS is delivering progress in a number of towns with Mutare being the flagship and other local authorities which have seen their revenues and services improving as well as reduction in corruption in management of their procurement services. There is need to continue supporting the roll out of LADS, resources are still required because our local authorities still face challenges in resource mobilisation. We are appealing for development partners to continue to support this ambitious journey to digitalise local government in Zimbabwe.”
The impact of the project has started being felt with government saying it will help in fighting corruption.
“The project started in 2019 due to poor revenue collection, resulting in backlogs in payment of salaries and other obligations. Today, we are update in terms of salary arrears and obligations. We signed an MOU with Harare institute of technology to digitalise all our departments. We have so far developed 21 modules. We have also received 27 000 from the EU and we have channelled 40 000 from local resources. We are now up to date with our audits. This year we have developed a formula where the system auto calculates the tariffs,” explained Acting Mutare Town Clerk, Blessing Chafesuka.
Deputy Director in the Office of Manicaland Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Mr Past Tense Tarondwa said, “It is clear that the new system is bearing fruit. We have all heard how corruption is affecting the provision of service delivery. As government we are pleading with you to continue funding such initiatives to improve on services delivery.”
After computerisation of all local authorities, there is a dream to embark on cloud computing to ensure that all the national authorities’ data is captured by a single system thereby enhancing transparency.