Mutare residents expressed optimism about the city’s efforts to improve accountability at the Civic Center through an online interactive feedback platform for taxpayers.
The City of Mutare recently partnered with the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) under Local Authority Digital Systems (LADS) to create a new system for reporting and tracking requests.
This customer relationship management system innovation is currently being tested and is designed to improve accountability in service delivery in the local community.
A group of resident representatives applauded the city fathers for taking positive steps to address public concerns and improve cooperation with taxpayers.
Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Association (MURRA) program manager David Mutambirwa commended the community for proactive measures to improve accountability by providing residents with an interactive platform to submit complaints.
He said the latest innovation will also feed into the Budgets Committee, which from this year will be made up of representatives from residents, youth, businesses and public interest groups and will ensure the council is guided by public opinion.
“Recently, the Council has tried to take on a significant degree of accountability. Communication between the service provider and consumers has increased significantly.
“For me, the new platform, which is similar to MDATA, and the creation of a budget committee offers an opportunity not only to improve accountability, but also to create social cohesion and demystify perceptions and distrust between the service provider and consumers.
“There are also several social media platforms that are being used to engage management on service delivery issues, which has been somewhat unusual in recent years,” Mutambirwa said.
The council has also allayed fears that the service could become a white elephant, like a similar project, the Mutare City Data for Accountability (MDATA) SMS hotline project, which failed to roll out.
MDATA was launched in collaboration with the Peace and Capacity Development Foundation (PACDEF) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) as technical partners.
Council spokesman Spren Mutiwi said the LADS goes beyond the MDATA in giving residents the power to file complaints and providing a reference number for tracking.
According to Mutiwi, with such innovations, the council ensures that residents and stakeholders have access to better and integrated communication processes that allow real-time tracking of progress on the issues raised.
“It is not a repeat of MDATA, the project could not be started due to limited funds, the innovation is very different. The system automatically generates a reference number unlike previous innovations that failed to take off.
“The new innovation being pushed by the city has become a national project and that alone speaks volumes to the seriousness of what is being done. It is very flexible and makes the council more accountable to residents and stakeholders.
“Residents can track their complaints or inquiries through the reference number and they are the ones confirming that the job has been done and completed,” Mutiwi said.
United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust (UMRRT) Director Edson Dube was coy in endorsing the platform, although he acknowledged the advice for this latest innovation to improve accountability.
“They say the platform is online and was developed with HIT, not residents. I hope it’s good, but overall it’s a great initiative and a step in the right direction,” he said.