Residents embrace online complaints platform
Residents of Mutare have expressed optimism about the city’s efforts to improve accountability at the Civic Center through an interactive online taxpayer feedback platform.
The City of Mutare has recently collaborated with the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) under Local Authority Digital Systems (LADS) to create a new reporting and inquiry tracking system.
This innovation in the customer relationship management system is being tested and is expected to improve accountability in service delivery to the local municipality.
A group of resident representatives applauded the city fathers for taking positive steps to address public concerns and improve engagement with ratepayers.
David Mutambirwa, Program Manager of the Mutare Residents and Taxpayers Association (MURRA) commended the municipality for its proactive measures to strengthen accountability by providing residents with an interactive platform to file complaints.
He said the latest innovation will also feed into the budget committee, which from this year includes representatives from residents, young people, businesses and public interest groups, and will ensure that the council is guided by public opinion.
“Lately, the board has tried to embrace accountability in a meaningful way. Communication has greatly increased between the service provider and the consumers.
“For me, the new platform which is similar to MDATA and the creation of a budget committee offers an opportunity to not only improve accountability, but can give birth to social cohesion and demystify perceptions and suspicions between the service provider and consumers.
“There are also several social media platforms that are used to engage management on service delivery issues, which was something unheard of in recent years,” Mutambirwa said.
The council also allayed fears that the service could turn into a white elephant like a similar project, the Mutare City Data for Accountability (MDATA) sms hotline project which has not been rolled out.
MDATA, was introduced 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 as it gives residents the power to file complaints and provide a reference number for tracking.
Mutiwi said that with such innovations, the council is ensuring that residents and stakeholders have access to better and integrated communication processes that allow for real-time monitoring of progress on issues raised.
“This is not a repeat of MDATA, the project could not start due to limited funds, the innovation is very different. The system automatically generates a reference number unlike previous innovations which failed to take off.
“The new innovation launched by the city has become a national project and that alone speaks volumes about the seriousness of what is being done. It’s very flexible and makes the 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 certifying that the work has been done and completed,” Mutiwi said.
United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust (UMRRT) director Edson Dube was hesitant to endorse the platform, although he credited the council for this latest innovation aimed at improving accountability.
“They say the platform is online and it was developed with HIT and not with residents. I hope it’s a good move, but it’s a great move overall and a step in the right direction,” he said.