Harare City Council has extended to January 31, the 30% discounts to residents with up-to-date rates and water accounts.
BY SILENCE CHARUMBIRA
In a notice, the council said the discounts, on a sliding scale depending on the amount, were for the full statement of all arrears for the period before December 31, 2014.
“To qualify for this award, ratepayers should settle the arrears on their account by January 31, 2016,” said the municipality.
Harare City Council spokesperson Michael Chideme yesterday said they had responded to public demand as civil servants, some of whom were only paid their December salaries in January, had requested for an extension.
“There is a huge response and the extension that we effected is due to public demand. What we actually did is to respond to them (civil servants), as they are the majority of the ratepayers who are also faithful in paying their bills, but some of them only got their salaries in January after the lapse of the deadline,” he said.
Harare Residents’ Trust director Precious Shumba said although the promotion was noble, in the current context it would never be regarded as a necessity.
He said instead it appeared to be more of a fundraising for salaries and allowances and not for service provision.
Shumba said the city had continuously failed to provide services because the bulk of its revenue goes for employee-related costs.
“80% of the municipal budget goes towards staff costs and very little – less than 10% – is going towards service provision. The 30% discount offered to residents is mainly designed to fundraise for salaries and allowances of municipal workers,” he said.
“We say this because of the evidence we have concerning the incomes and expenditures of the council. Auditor-General’s reports (October 2014) indicate that the council is operating several banking accounts which are secretive, and whose signatories are unknown to the majority of council employees, councillors and managers, but only known to a few elites who have taken the council as their own private property.”
Combined Harare Residents’ Association chairperson Simbarashe Moyo said although the extension was welcome, council should ensure that 30% of revenue is reserved for salaries and expenses while the rest goes to service delivery.
“From our side, it is logical considering that people had no money in December, so in the spirit of fairness it makes sense. It is welcome to even those outside the civil service that only got paid in January,” Moyo said.
He, however, said there were still gaps with regard to service delivery, adding there should be a tally between the revenue raised and the services provided.
Moyo said from council reports, the city fathers were spending between 45 and 50% of their revenue on salaries which was unhealthy.