Harare mayor Gomba blasts govt, residents for resisting rates increases

By Fani Mapfumo

HARARE Mayor Herbert Gomba says the municipality’s inability to deliver to its constituency is mainly due to ratepayers’ unwillingness to foot the entire services bill.

Writing on his microblogging Twitter account, the mayor said council’s expenses were higher than the revenue currently being collected from residents.

“Council needs ZWL45 million to buy water chemicals and other things to produce water for a month, but all the residents are able to pay is ZWL25 million.

“The waste management account is in loss, charging ZWL6,50 yet fuel costs ZWL17 per litre.

“Residents must understand this fact,” Gomba said.

The mayor emphasised the need for government to allow council the leeway to either increase or decrease rates for the positive development of Harare.

“To turn around the City of Harare, we should turn a page and charge rates that are reasonable to the need to transform this city.

“Council must be allowed to charge and we must reduce costs.

“Many residents complain about service delivery, yet they pay sub-economic rates even after the debt cancellation of 2013,” Gomba said.

The mayor’s Twitter communique comes in the aftermath of the Local Government ministry’s refusal to sanction council’s rates and tariffs increase proposal by almost 500 percent this year.

Harare residents have, however, faulted the city fathers of misplaced priorities, saying they were purchasing luxurious cars and overspending on salaries and benefits for its senior staff to the detriment of services delivery.

Harare is currently in the throes of serious water problems since 2018, with cholera and typhoid outbreaks being the order of the day in many high density suburbs.

City fathers have also been accused of leaving sewer and water pipes unattended, sometimes taking ages to have them repaired whenever bursts are reported, hence exposing residents to serious waterborne diseases.

Residents have also complained about poor, dilapidated and potholed roads, making it difficult for motorists to navigate.

Refuse compactors have also often failed to service many parts of the suburbs in Harare, resulting in rubbish piling up.

Speaking to Zim Morning Post, Harare Residents Trust (HRT) co-ordinator Precious Shumba dismissed the mayor’s sentiments about rates increases, accusing the MDC-run council of misplaced priorities, corruption and nepotism.

This, according to Shumba, were the main causes of the municipality’s failure to run Harare efficiently.

“What he (Gomba) misses or deliberately leaves out is the ill-advice the council hierarchy is getting on the recruitment of workers issues vis-a-vis the real capacity of ratepayers to settle their bills.

“The mayor, his fellow councillors and council management jointly caused the unfortunate, unjustified and ill-advised recruitment of 3 500 workers between June and December 31, 2018, ” Shumba said.

He said the mass recruitment of workers increased the expenditure bill of Harare City Council by at least 35 percent, adversely worsening the city’s financial situation.

Shumba added that the city had projects with the capacity to generate enough funds for service delivery.

Shumba said the projects were, however, failing to raise the requisite funds.

“They have installed a highly incompetent and corrupt team at City Parking, in the end reducing it to a personal project,” which sub-contracted the financial accounting of City Parking to a private board and coterie of favourite councillors who are not accountable to council’s finance director or town clerk.

“The mayor has better access to the books of City Parking than the technocrats and relevant council committees which are supposed to know more.

“This is mostly due to the opaque structures they have established along partisan lines,” Shumba added.

He further accused councillors of being incompetent and corrupt, running the city along mainly partisan lines.

Zim Morning Post