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Harare residents say no to illegal property seizure
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)
July 13, 2011

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) has resolved to resist the property seizures by the City of Harare (COH) over unpaid bills. The Association is alarmed that the Muchadeyi Masunda Council has publicly declared that it will attach property and homes of over 5000 residents in the City of Harare. It is irresponsible and illegal for the city of Harare to attach residents' properties of Residents with arrears after perennial seasons of no water, refuse collection and a devastating Cholera outbreak. How does the City of Harare justify its demand for payment from residents of Mabvuku and Tafara when they have not provided water for over the past 6 years.

What is worse is that currently the C.O.H is sitting on a manual and chaotic billing system that has seen some residents being billed thousands of hard earned United States dollars despite consistent payments. The Treasury department has failed to make a smooth transition from the Zimbabwe dollar era to a multi currency system hence the billing fiasco. The Association will resist these payments particularly in the face of ongoing water cuts and irregular refuse collection, and burst sewer pipes within our localities and a bloated administrative bill funding hefty salaries and allowances for directors of the local authority at the expense of service delivery. To date, C.O.H has been charging tariffs that were rejected by residents during its annual budget consultations which commenced in November 2010. In view of the above CHRA;

  • Call on all residents to resist these illegal payments. Residents who have received Final Demand Letters from the City of Harare must enter an appearance to defend with the Clerk of the Magistrates court citing such defenses as no service provided as is the case with most communities, inconsistent billing or a nonexistent bill. We urge residents to approach their CHRA Ward representatives for more information.
  • Call on the Mayor of the City of Harare and the entire council to consider cancelling all debts to residents that are dated before the multi-currency system. This must be coupled with a new revamped system of data capturing and billing within the city of Harare.
  • The City of Harare must explore alternative means of financing the operations of the local authority. The City must not depend entirely on rates collection. There are other projects like power generation which are potential sources of revenue.
  • We call upon the Minister of Local Government, Rural and urban Development and the Minister of Finance to introduce a bill in parliament that seeks to allocate at least 30% of national budget to local authorities. Local authorities provide the closest governance tier through which poor people can participate in the fight against poverty. This bill must be in line with the current Constitutional reform process. CHRA thus calls for the constitutionalisation of local government within the new constitution.
  • We urge the City of Harare to should operate in tandem with a regionally acceptable ratios of 70 percent of revenue generated going towards service delivery and 30% going towards administration and personnel. However, we are aware that the local authority has got a huge human resource burden which is also jam-packed with ghost workers. To that effect, it is important for the local authority to cut on its H.R base and continue weeding out ghost workers to avoid wastage of public funds. It is a matter of public record that service delivery has not reached satisfactory levels in areas of road maintenance in communities and street lighting but C.O.H has not been on the social dock for that.

Harare residents are urged to approach CHRA offices if ever they are facing property seizure and get legal assistance for free.

CHRA remains committed to good local governance that is discharged on a non partisan basis.

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