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City Treasurer failing residents of Harare
Harare Residents' Trust (HRT)
January 23, 2012

The HRT sees the intensified dispatch of summons by the City Treasury as the clearest indicator so far of the lack of creativity and initiative to find alternative means of increasing the city's revenue by the City Treasurer Mr Misheck Mubvumbi.

This is so because the City of Harare has failed to explain why it maintains a private Executive Payroll for its 62 senior managers including the heads of departments. As long as they give salaries ranging between US$10 000 to US$18 000 to the heads of departments, the residents of Harare have no reason to feel compelled to pay for services not rendered like water, road maintenance and refuse collection.

Thousands of residents squarely blame the City Treasurer for his gross failure to make sound recommendations to the City of Harare, through the Finance and Development Committee, and subsequently to the Full Council to give policy back up to his recommendations. Rather the City Treasurer is contend with issuing summons, lying that residents and other stakeholders are not paying their rates when it is clear that the City of Harare is using estimated means to charge residents. The system of entering residents' payment data is manual and hence subject to abuse and manipulation by his department.

Observant residents will have noted that the City of Harare has taken advantage of the New Year by increasing its tariffs for commercial properties. Water - fixed charge has been raised from $58 to $92 - an increase of $34 which a 55% increase. Water - from $0.60c per cubic meter to $0.80 per cubic meter - an increase of 33%. Sewage removal - from $10 per toilet to $15 per toilet (50% increases) and from $19 fixed charge to $29 fixed charge (53%).

If these figures are anything to go by, it clearly shows that the City Treasurer has unilaterally raised rates by 50%, without residents' input, and that is criminal. There has to be an explanation to this madness before residents resort to other means to safeguard themselves against further abuse. This despite a fruitful meeting at Makombe Building that was held in November among the Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development, the Mayor of Harare, the Town Clerk and his heads of departments, the Harare Residents' Trust and city of Harare workers representatives.

There was gross manipulation of residents' debts from the Zimbabwe Dollar era in February 209 when Zimbabwe introduced the multi-currency payment regime. While residents and other citizens lost substantial amounts of money invested in Zimbabwe Dollar in banks and other investment portfolios, the City of Harare actually converted those amounts owed in the defunct Zimbabwe Dollar into US$ using prevailing black market rates at that time, ignoring monetary pronouncements and policy positions.

This is a desperate attempt by the City of Harare to get revenue, yet the city employs a city Treasurer to help them control finances and generate revenue. If he cannot deliver, the best way to go is to resign and leave other competent people in his department.

Residents should pay for council services but the figures should never impoverish them. Most household heads are unemployed meaning they are incapacitated to pay these rates. The HRT will continue to speak on these issues to protect residents of Harare against this madness by the City of Harare. However, residents who have received and who will receive summons are encouraged to immediately write a letter and deliver it to where the summons have come from to oppose the summons. This can be done by documenting the reasons for failure of payment and submitting the appeal to the civil court. It is time for us as residents to show that we have the power to influence our destiny. Kana tati hoo, tobva tambomira (If we say stop, let's stop), no one has power to force us to do what we do not want. Service providers should learn to respect their sources of funding than resort to arbitrary means to generate revenue.

We call apon the residents of Harare to unite in their thousands and reject the summons.

Productive dialogue has proved to be less fruitful with the City of Harare. The HRT demands the scrapping of all debts that have been accrued by residents from February 2009 to December 2010. The summons has crippled residents' capacity to pay and now risk losing their property. The City of Harare has willy-nilly violated the Urban Councils' Act (Chapter 29:15) by continuously imposing a budget disregarding residents and other stakeholders' input. It is time for action.

Visit the Harare Residents' Trust fact sheet

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