Residents slam Harare City proposals

BY FARAI MATIASHE

HARARE residents have slammed proposals by the city council to increase rates by over 300%, saying the move was both unjustifiable and unsustainable.
Harare City Council on Thursday presented a ZW$484 million supplementary budget which would see charges for water, refuse collection, clamping fees, burial space and other services rising by up to 300%.

Vehicle tow-away fees were hiked by 1 000%, with council arguing the increments were meant to align with the recent monetary policies introduced by government.

But residents believe the proposals were unhelpful, as they were also feeling the come to terms with the economic crisis ravaging the
country.

“Residents owe huge amounts to the council, including businesses, industry and government departments. They have struggled to pay what they currently owe under
the current socio-economic context. Proposing to increase their burden is unhelpful,” Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba said.

“The amounts owed to the council will only increase without any hope that they will be paid off anytime. It is an exercise in futility. For a feel-good and
busy body mentality, the council, especially the management, uses figures to justify failure to provide essential services, without being made to account for
the little revenue that they are collecting.”

He said water remained scarce, with 60% of treated water being lost along the distribution network through leakages and illegal connections. The HRT director
also said there was need for council to ensure that at least 80% of treated water reached intended households.

Shumba said increasing maternity fees was a disaster waiting as the move would fuel the transmission of mother-to-child of HIV and Aids pandemic when
registration fees go beyond the reach of many.

“Young girls and poverty stricken women will, therefore, delay registering their pregnancies, thus increasing the risk of unborn babies being infected with HIV
and Aids. Council should seriously value citizen participation and stakeholders’ involvement and avoid this piecemeal approach, where they try to separate
their stakeholders and manipulate what each stakeholder is told,” he said.

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