BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Harare mayor Herbert Gomba says the city has to investigate the cause of dwindling revenue from the informal sector amid indications that space barons were fleecing vendors and collecting revenue meant for the local authority.
Gomba said, from statistics availed to his office, revenue collection had gone down although the number of vendors has increased drastically.
“In 2017, we collected $3 million and the figure went down to $2,5 million in 2018 and now we are projecting to collect around $1,3 million at a time when the number of vendors is increasing. Something is wrong with our revenue collection systems,” Gomba said.
“We made it very clear when we got into office that our mandate is to transform Harare and the lives of the ratepayers and residents and also transform Harare into a smart city. This means that we will leave no stone unturned in our desire to deliver efficient services to the residents of Harare,” he said.
“We are all aware that the country is going through serious economic challenges and Harare is included. Our debtors’ book, which is currently over $800 million, is testimony to that. This, therefore, demands fresh thinkers and innovators so that we are able to deliver services.”
Gomba directed top management to plug revenue leakages.
“Issues of pilferage and loss of revenue through corrupt tendencies must be stopped. There is need to ensure that employees of the City of Harare do not bleed council. The residents must also realise that if they don’t pay, service cannot be guaranteed,” he said.
“Harare is attracting support from various partners and we should be ready to receive that support and work with stakeholders. Since last year, we have been receiving proposals for co-operation and we should be seen to be ready to embrace partnerships that work.”
Addressing council’s rapid results workshop, town clerk Hosiah Chisango said the local authority has been running on a shoe-string budget due to the prevailing economic situation.
“The past 100 days were very difficult … when foreign currency was very scarce and our revenue was eroded by inflationary pressures. The existence of the interbank exchange rate and the parallel market has also affected our operations. The hundred days have also not been easy because our income was not rated, but our expenditure continues to be affected by market forces. This, therefore, put our city in a precarious position where we had to balance the matrix,” Chisango said.
“The statistics will give you a clearer picture on the current situation in Harare. Debtors, as at April 30, 2019: $899 million. Creditor,s as at April 30, 2019: $470 million,” he added.
The city said it was collecting at least 50% of what they would have billed.
“Potential revenue versus actual collections stands as follows: January, $22 million and actual collections, $ 17 million. For February, potential $23,8 million and actual collections: $12 million,” Chisango said.
For March, the city had projected to collect $23,2 million, but managed only $13,4 million.
“Preliminary assessments have indicated that plan submission fees and relevant penalties have the potential to raise an estimated $1,5 million to $2 million per month for the next three to six months. Regularisation of informal settlements in areas zoned residential and a blitz on leases to be conducted, non-performing leases to be cancelled and lessees subletting will be punished. This has the potential to raise revenue which will be ascertained after preliminary assessments,” Chisango added.