HARARE – Harare residents have demanded that council scraps fixed water charges rather than just lower them.
In a development that could annoy Harare City Council (HCC), Precious Shumba, the Harare Residents Trust (HRT) director, said: “The City of Harare has come up with a largely unchanged budget which attempts to take into consideration the concerns of residents on fixed water charges.
“These charges are unjustified and only serve to increase the cost of living for most urban citizens. The City of Harare has not learnt anything from the past when it comes to budget formulation.
“Residents have failed to pay for municipal services because they strongly believe they are being charged for services not rendered, especially residents from the eastern and northern suburbs who have not received consistent water supplies from the municipality, yet they are being asked to pay fixed water charges.
“The council has not demonstrated its willingness to incentivise rates payment. There are residents who continuously settled their bills up to the time of the debt cancellation."
“The HRT proposes and will continue to lobby that these be given an agreed percentage discount on rates until probably 31 December 2017 as an incentive for sustaining the council when others were struggling to settle their bills,” said Shumba
In its 2014 standstill budget totalling $370,2 million approved last week, HCC finance and development chairperson Allan Markham said the development was in response to Harare residents’ submissions during pre-budget consultations.
Fixed charges for domestic water in high density areas has been reduced from $5 to $4, for low density suburbs from $11 to $9 while industry charges came down by $30 to $50.
Tendai Muchada, the Combined Harare Residents Association (Chra) programmes manager, said apart from pre-budget meetings, there was further need for council to continually engage ratepayers.
“Chra maintains that the budget making process should be an all-inclusive year round process,” Muchada said.
“Secondly, despite the unchanged figures, there is still no compliance to the Cabinet directive which instructs local authorities to budget 30 percent of the total revenue towards administration and personnel with the remaining 70 percent going towards service delivery.”