Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo Wednesday slashed water charges proposed in the 2011 Harare City Council budget on grounds the local authority’s water charges were not affordable to residents.
Chombo told a press conference local authorities countrywide were callous in their budget proposals by charging exorbitant tariffs which he said were far from the reach of many.
At least 90% of the budgets countrywide have been approved and the ministry is still interrogating other budgets.
Chombo said he had also reduced maternity fees by 50% and clinic fees by the same percentage meaning patients will pay $25 from $50.
The city council had proposed that patients pay $30 from $50 in its $260 million 2011 proposed budget.
“In clinics, adults will have to pay $5 from $10 while children will pay $2 from $5,” Chombo said.
He said residents were now expected to pay $5 from $7 as fixed charge for domestic water while in low-density suburbs residents are set to pay $11 from $13.
He said the ministry would ensure that funds generated from the water account are ploughed back into water and sewer reticulation for its rejuvenation without an added cost to the consumer.
The minister said he was working with relevant ministries to ensure civil servants benefited from state land.
He said Harare should stop employing many people unnecessarily.
Chombo said: “They have 10 500 workers yet they only need about 7 500. What are the others doing while they continue to hire people? They have to rationalise the posts they have. Why do they continue to hire people while others are doing nothing in the council?”
Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda said he was waiting for feedback on the budget from the ministry and accused politicians of trying to score “brownie points” against each other.
Residents have disputed the council budget, with the Harare Residents’ Trust calling on people to boycott paying rates.
The residents who have been clamouring for improved service delivery said they expected council to revise charges for refuse collection to only $1, rentals to $5, fixed water charges to $2, cemetery charges to $10 against council’s proposed $175, maternity fees to zero against council’s proposed $30, supplementary charges to $1, clinic charges to $1, parking to $1 and bookings of public halls to $25.