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Speculative business people cry foul as city introduces the new zoning system
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)
May 12, 2011

The City of Harare's new zoning system has attracted an outcry from speculative business people, most of whom are political bigwigs and senior Government officials who feel that the system will milk significant amounts of money from their pockets in rates payments. Senior Government officials and other residents, who have been holding on to large tracts of undeveloped land will bear the brunt of the new zoning system which allocates elite service charges on undeveloped rather than developed land.

The Combined Harare Residents' Association (CHRA) has it on good record that scores of senior government officials and political big wigs visited the Rowan Martin Building for the past week in a bid to influence the reversal of the system through objections. Under the new zoning and rating system residents will be charged according to the size of their stands not land developments as opposed to the previous system where property tax was charged on the basis of developments done on the land. The new system is in compliance with the Urban Councils Act (UCA) Chapter 29:15 sections 236 to 283. The zoning system was introduced after the City's previous General Valuation Roll (GVR) was declared redundant; having been renewed thrice for the past 15 years. According to the UCA, the maximum time for which the GVR of a Zimbabwean local authority can be in operation is 15 years; after which the Local Authority will not have the legal basis to charge rates if the GVR is not changed completely.

However the effect that the zoning system will have on rates for residents with single housing stands (especially those in high density areas) will not be much as compared to residents with large tracts of undeveloped land. In a meeting that was conducted between CHRA and the City of Harare's Treasury and Surveying Departments, it was revealed that the City will place high tariffs on undeveloped land; a situation that will see some residents paying between 1000 - 1200 United States dollars in monthly rates. However, despite the objections that have been raised by some residents, the City of Harare seems adamant on keeping its position on the zoning system; a situation that has attracted a lot of venom from the affected residents inclusive of the Minister of Local Government who has described the move as an effort by the City to "increase rates through the back door". It is, however, ironic to note that the Minister of Local Government, Dr Chombo, was aware of this development three years ago. In 2008, the issue of the new GVR was put on the table since the Minister could not extent the previous one and it was actually signed and certified by the Mayor.

The City of Harare has, however, admitted the system has many miscalculations and errors and this has raised an outcry from residents who feel that the Council is overcharging them. The Council has since extended an invitation to residents who wish to challenge the way that their properties have been valuated and rated. Such residents can visit the Rowan Martin Building and see Mr. Nyakudya or Mr. Mutambirwa. Alternatively, residents can call on the following numbers: (04) 756900 or (04) 752 979. For those with queries concerning their bills, they can contact Mr. Mupaso (City of Harare's Billing Controller) on 0773 286 368; or email

CHRA urges the City of Harare to educate their District Officers and residents across the city on how the zoning and rating system works as many of them have no idea as to whether the system will impact positively or negatively on their bills. CHRA remains committed to advocating for good, transparent and accountable local governance as well as advocating for quality and affordable municipal services on a non partisan basis.

Visit the CHRA fact sheet

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