HARARE Mayor Councillor Jacob Mafume says the municipality wants back control of vehicle licensing, which is currently under Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) because this will help it to fund road repairs and rebuilding.
Speaking at a Constituency Development Fund meeting for Harare East held recently in Greendale, Cllr Mafume said there was need for Zinara to return the collection of vehicle licences back to the City of Harare.
He was responding to a resident who expressed concern over the state of roads in Greendale.
“Our neighbourhood is turning into a growth point, no roads and potholes all over,” said the resident.
The resident said the roads are cracked and the tarmac has moved away damaging motorists’ cars each time they drive on such roads.
“We are having to spend money on our cars in a way which we didn’t use to a long time ago.
“Can the Mayor give us your relationship with Zinara, how these roads are supposed to be repaired?
“It’s impossible for me to get to my house,” he said.
In response, Cllr Mafume said the dilemma on road funding stemmed from the formula used by Zinara to calculate allocations to local authorities.
“We have another dilemma on the roads as that is another area that we let go.
“We have asked our legislature to return the roads responsibilities back to city council, the collection of vehicle licences.
“We have 800 000 cars in Harare. We give money to Zinara.
“Let’s say for example, we were giving US$10 per car per month, it will come up to US$80 million and all that.
“If it was coming back to council, we would leverage it and get loans to redo the roads and so forth like every council does but it goes to Zinara.
“Zinara has got an (allocation) formula which it says it got from the World Bank. I went to speak to the chief executive of Zinara who advised that he got the formula from the World Bank which says we build roads in the least developed area.
“So they get money from Harare. They work out a formula that they couldn’t explain to me. But what it means, it assumes that in a game park, there are less roads so they end up building the road in a game park.
“Currently they are trying to build a road from Karoi to Victoria Falls. That is the formula. So you get a bigger figure from Zinara but it does not relate to the figure that Harare (motorists) have paid for.
“We are short changed, we get less money,” said Cllr Mafume.
Zinara however, has been arguing that Harare City Council sometimes delays to submit its road programmes or when it is allocated the money it does not use it timeously until the allocation is eaten up by inflation.
Zinara says once it receives the local authority’s work plan it immediately disburses the money.
A few years ago, Parliament heard that an improved way of remitting money collected from vehicle licence fees to councils was being devised so that municipalities are able to use the money to maintain roads within their cities and towns.
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo told the National Assembly in Parliament during a question and answer question in 2018.
Zinara is collecting the vehicle licence fees having taken over the function from the municipalities a few years ago.
Councils and some parliamentarians have been lobbying Government to return the function of collecting vehicle licence fees to the municipalities.
But Minister Moyo said Government feels collection of the vehicle licence fees should remain under Zinara, which is making use of several other agencies including Zimpost, insurance firms, banks and supermarkets, to collect the fees.
The Minister said the remittance of the money to councils should be on an accrual basis to enable municipalities to get the money on a regular basis.