THE City of Harare is now banking on decentralisation of services to district offices to motivate ratepayers who are boycotting paying rates to pay and hopefully improve service delivery.
Presently the municipality is faced with a financial squeeze as its revenue collection efficiency has plummeted significantly.
According to a council budget report, the municipality collected slightly more than $60 billion against a potential revenue target of $175 billion in July. The city’s revenue collection efficiency has been fluctuating beginning the year in January at 52 percent, dropped to 48 percent in February before rising to 55 percent in March then dropping slightly in April to 53.8 percent and rising to 65 percent in May. It dropped to 58 percent in June and further plunged to 35.4 percent in July, the lowest in the period under review between January and July 2023.
Some residents are not paying their bills because they feel they cannot be paying for non-delivered services. Water supplies and refuse collection are their worst levels while council is also struggling to pay workers on time.
This week town clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango told council officials at a workshop on revenue and cost containment that the city is embarking on the decentralisation process which will see council being divided into five regional offices.
The decentralisation will give district officers powers to run their districts in a way that will bring development in their local spheres of influence.
The regions are divided into five zones with each being headed by a regional manager.
In his opening remarks at the workshop, Eng Chisango urged workers to put their heads together for decentralisation to be a success.
He said it is the workers’ role to be proactive and customer responsive if council has to improve in its revenue collection.
“As district officers in your new enhanced roles as drivers of service delivery and revenue collection at the local level, it is important that you are customer responsive, dedicated and self-driven.
“Self-driven particularly in ensuring that the residents in your districts pay for the services rendered.
“You must be self -driven in ensuring that customer complaints are addressed on time. You will all agree with me that we have reached an all-time low in revenue collection because as a collective, we have not made reasonable efforts to collect what we are owed,” said Eng Chisango.
He encouraged the spirit of team work for the programme succeed.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are one city and the silo mentality, which is counterproductive, continues to affect our operations.
“We have situations where the revenue officers do not want to collaborate with the district officers, the technical teams do not want to work with the district officers. That is going to be a thing of the past in this programme.
“Close collaboration between you and others within the districts is key to unlocking our potential. We have no luxury to engage in unnecessary conflicts.
“We must roll up our sleeves and fight together for the good of our city.
“The bottom line is that every employee of the City of Harare must work towards achieving sustainable development and service delivery in council,” he said.
Eng. Chisango added that low collection efficiencies have significant impact on service delivery by reducing revenue, leading to inefficient resource allocation, inability to meet service demands, inability to invest in infrastructure, and increased accrual debt.
He said the executive and district officers have a role to play in rescuing the city from sinking further into financial sinkhole and be able to provide services to the expectations of the residents and clients to activate them to enjoy paying for the service rendered. — City of Harare/Suburban Reporter.