HARARE – Mbare residents besieged the Rowan Martin office last weekend demanding that the Harare City Council implement a ministerial directive to write-off water bills.
Hundreds besieged the offices demanding to know when their bills will be slashed after noting that they have not yet been written off as directed by Ignatius Chombo, the minister of Local Government and Urban Council.
Police had to be called in to maintain peace and order.
Harare City Council is owed over $400 million in unpaid dues by the residents.
Muchadeyi Masunda, Harare mayor said Chombo’s directive was illegal.
He said council was yet to receive the directive to write-off the debt, warning the decree had disastrous consequences to the operations of the council.
“I gather there are some misguided and overzealous loose cannons who were picketing at the Harare City Council revenue collection centres at Rowan Martin Building, Old Mutual House and district offices of certain high density areas dissuading bonafide ratepayers from paying their dues,” Masunda said.
“The police should arrest the individuals concerned and let the law take its course against them.” He said Chombo’s directive was irrational.
“The long and short of it all is that the livelihoods of a hub of 4,5 million within greater Harare will be put at grave risk if Chombo’s directive is not swiftly nipped in the bud,” said Masunda.
“The concerned residents should be told not waste their time and breath as Chombo’s directive does not have locus standi to issue the purported directive as Section 303 of the Urban Councils Act does not empower him to do so.
“The prerogative to do so solely belongs to a duly constituted city council and no one else, including president Robert Mugabe, Prime Morgan Tsvangirai or Chombo. The purported directive is not only unlawful but also grossly unreasonable and irrational.”
During the presidential campaign rally, Mugabe has been using Chombo’s directive as one of the key talking points in his address to the electorate in a move widely viewed as vote buying.