Residents concerned with council’s poor communication strategies

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Simbarashe Fenton M

Residents in Redcliff have expressed displeasure over the council’s communication strategy which has negatively affected smooth flow of critical information with stakeholders.

The development comes in the wake of diverging reception in the council’s efforts while engaging residents to continue paying outstanding bills they owe in order to clear the Kwekwe City debt and for improved services.

Speaking in the Redcliff Mayor’s Forum platform, analyst and commentator Rueben Tendai Mbofana called on the council to improve its communication strategy, in order to effectively address issues and allow input from stakeholders so that they solve problems facing the town on a unified front.

“Any institution without a vibrant and effective communication department or strategy is destined for a collision course with stakeholders. Lack of proper communication can easily cause friction and problems even in interpersonal relationships what more between an institution and its varied stakeholders?

“Issues that can be resolved smoothly have the real potential of turning into a source of conflict if not handled with the utmost care and delicacy,” said Mbofana.

Other residents also expressed dissatisfaction with the way in which council communicates when they want bills to be paid or attendance for budget consultations. While usually they are silent on critical issues which call for timely immediate feedback.

“We should not have to ask for updates, but these should be readily availed to us on a regular basis. There is a situation where someone is elected by us to represent us yet there is not even a single day he/she visit or ask because he/she does not even live in the ward, that backstabbing is very unfortunate, but has to be corrected either by engagement or by the ballot,” said a Ward 5 resident.

Under corporate and business circumstances, the Public Relations department of any organisation including public organisations should be empowered in all aspects and take center stage of all communications in order to create niche of mutual relations with stakeholders in order to create, maintain a good image of an organisation.

Addressing the concerns of the residents, Redcliff Mayor Councilor Clayton Masiyatsva advised that there is communication strategy in place which includes the Public Relations department at the Civic Centre and The Mayors Forum WhatsApp platform which of late has improved communication between the Mayor and stakeholders.

“We have a PR department in place and its effectiveness is the duty of Town Clerk to supervise them. Redcliff Municipality has a working Facebook, Twitter handle and a website, come 2022 we are launching a newsletter to improve on our communication.

“I cannot answer on behalf of other councilors but as the Mayor I do have the Mayor’s Forum and I am in all resident WhatsApp chat groups where I do my best to reach out to the people on a weekly basis. The challenge I observed, however, is that even if we call for public meetings a few people will attend the feedback meetings.

“Most importantly in line with the policy, (Freedom of Information Act), we are now going to brief the media on the state of council after every full council meeting,” said Masiyatsva.

Ward 1 councilor Maxin Dabvu noted with concern the need for the council to put more effort, in engaging the residents. He has so far implemented a communication strategy in his ward.

“There is need for more effort (from council) if residents are complaining like this. Recently I visited another ward where I was approached by a few who complained about having approached their councilor on the state of roads especially this rainy season and they received a negative response.

“In my ward I do not have a problem as of now because we have a ward WhatsApp group where all issues are deliberated and we try to find possible solutions. My door is open anytime for issues, and physically I engage with residents,” said Cllr Dabvu.

Meanwhile, Redcliff Council owes Kwekwe City more than rtgs$70 million, the council has however vowed to keep on cutting off access to water to those who owe the council in order to encourage residents to pay their bills.

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