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Mabvuku public meeting report
Harare Residents Trust
December 10, 2010

Report of a public meeting held at Area D Community Hall in Mabvuku on 8 December 2010 at 10 am

Welcome Remarks:

Reverend Andrew Mutambu, the Chairperson of the Mabvuku Residents' Committee welcomed all the members, introduced the HRT Coordinator Precious Shumba and the Mabvuku Residents' executive. He said it was important for all residents to unite and fight for a reduction of the rates which have been proposed by the City of Harare.

Agenda:

  • Deliberations on the proposed City of Harare Budget.

Proceedings:

The HRT Mabvuku executive committee member read out the topical issues in the proposed 2011 City of Harare budget. Emphasis was mainly on the proposed figures for 2011 on housing, refuse collection, sewerage, water and health or council clinic fees. This was done in comparison with the suggested figures by the communities, under the Harare Residents' Trust (HRT).

Residents' Expectation of the 2011 City Budget:

  • Refuse - $ 1, Rentals - $5, Water -$2, Sewerage reticulation - $2, Cemetery charges - $10
  • Maternity fees- Zero, Supplementary charges - $1, Clinic charges - $1 for consultation
  • Parking in CBD - $1 per day, Hall booking - $25
  • Library fees -$1 per month, Flea market - to reduce by 50% current rates
  • Council schools - to reduce by 40%
  • Salaries and administration - the residents want the city to reduce by 20 percent its workforce in the 2011 City budget.

City Proposals: Effective 1 January 2010

  • Water charges.
  • High density areas fixed charge- from US$5 to US$7
  • Domestic- low density areas fixed charge from US$10 to US$13
  • Water- industrial/ commercial fixed charge from US$50 to US$60
  • This increase disregards the suffering of the residents, who are currently failing to pay their monthly dues to the council and other service providers.
  • The City of Harare has also proposed increases in rentals, making a mockery of the so-called budget consultations that they conducted in the communities. They never listened to the concerns of stakeholders, said Mutambu.

Issues of concern that arose at the meeting:

  • There is a large pool of unemployed and aged people (65+) in Mabvuku which means that people cannot afford to raise the pegged fees for the services due to them.
  • The budget is excessive and there is need to resist payment of the rates proposed.
  • The residents are currently in debt and need to clear what they owe council first. This will make it difficult for them to cope with the proposed fees.
  • There is so much insecurity from the residents. They felt that the council might repossess their houses if they fail to pay up their huge bills. This was highlighted during discussions on the message that has been circulated by the City of Harare on monthly bills indicating that senior citizens have to register with Rowan Martin Building offices or visit their district offices on or before 31 December 2010 to be exempted from paying the full amount owed to council per month. IN terms of the message senior citizens will be allowed to pay 50 percent of the bills owing to council. Out of ignorance the residents said they feared their houses would be taken over by the council if they went to register, a situation that can only be resolved through an awareness raising by the City council officials in the City Treasury Department.
  • Orphaned children and other legal dependants in Mabvuku have been dispossessed of their homes due to the growing debts, which the council has still failed to recognize in the current budget proposals.
  • The residents expressed reservations on how the council's rent- to- buy housing program is operating in the community as up to now no title deeds have been issued to residents.
  • There is a serious threat to community health in Mabvuku where most residents continue to fetch water from unprotected water sources yet council has increased the water charges in the proposed City budget. There is a clear lack of transparency and accountability on the part of the City of Harare.

Way forward

  • It was resolved that there would be a collaborative effort to resist the 2011 proposed City of Harare budget "tikazviramba hazvibudirire" "zvinogadziriswa chete".
  • "Chatasunga ngachiitike pasina kudududza." (Our resolutions must be carried through without backtracking).
  • The HRT to coordinate residents to develop a concrete position on the strategy that the residents can use to massively resist the Proposed 2011 City Budget.
  • The HRT will lobby and advocate for the debt cancellation and start afresh with an improved billing system.
  • There is need for Council to educate residents on the rent to buy policy and to inform them on how they acquired debt when the multiple currency system was introduced in February 2009.
  • The Mabvuku residents resolved to reje3ct the proposed 2011 City Budget within the 30-day timeframe provided in terms of the Urban Councils' Act (Chapter 29:15).

Analysis of the meeting

The HRT team noted that the level of participation at the meeting was extremely high. The participants clearly showed their disgruntlement with the proposed City of Harare Budget. The residents unanimously agreed that there is need to forward petitions to the City of Harare and to resist the propose budget as soon as possible, through written objection letters. The facilitators for the meetings (Mabvuku HRT suburban committee members) were able to make good presentations at the meeting. This is a welcome development to the HRT as the capacity of its suburban structures has improved greatly.

Contact the HRT on 0772-869294/ 0772-771860 or email us on hretrust@yahoo.com

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