THE Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT) has urged its members to continue with their rates boycott and defy council’s recent threats to take them to court over unpaid bills until there was transparency at Town House.
HRT co-ordinator Precious Sumba yesterday said the local authority was coercing residents to enter into payment plans and commit themselves to pay a fixed monthly figure and consequently guarantee “the looters at Town House to continue to drain public resources without being held accountable”.
“Residents whose water has been disconnected are urged to reconnect their water without hesitation. Water is a right and cannot be used as a tool to coerce people to honour their financial obligations,” Shumba said.
“The City of Harare can only disconnect water once they have secured a court order, if the disconnection has to do with a dispute in terms of the amount owed, which is the case for most residents.”
He said the city had a constitutional obligation to “disclose in full” the contents of the $144 million loan secured from China for rehabilitation of infrastructure at the Morton Jaffray Waterworks. Shumba said the rates boycott campaign was meant to force council management to take residents’ demands seriously.
“Once they feel the pinch of not timeously taking home their huge salaries of above $20 000 every month from residents, then they will become more reasonable and take seriously residents’ demands and concerns,” he said.
Harare City Council’s top 19 executives were reportedly gobbling $500 000 in salaries every month, while junior employees were owed about four months’ salaries.
City spokesperson Leslie Gwindi recently warned against the rates boycott, describing the move as illegal.
Gwindi said: “It’s a populist statement not backed by facts and we can only talk about it [the Chinese loan issue] after the investigations. For anybody to advocate for (rates boycott) is to advocate for chaos and anarchy and the law will not accept that.”