THE City of Harare has presented its budget proposals for 2023 with the municipality unveiling a ZWL$213 billion financial plan which will see rates and charges pegged in United States dollar but with an option to pay in local currency or foreign currency.
Under the proposals, residents in high density suburbs such as Mbare will pay an average monthly bill of US$23 while those in medium density suburbs such as Mabelreign will pay an average of US$77 with those in low density suburbs such as Borrowdale Brooke having to pay an average of US$113. Residents in high density suburbs will continue paying US$8 for refuse collection while those in low density areas will be paying US$11 and commercial properties will be paying US$22 for once a week frequency collection.
The figures steadily increase for commercial and industrial properties depending on collection frequency.
Clinic consultation fees will also remain unchanged with adults paying an equivalent of US$5 and children US$3.
The same consultation fees will apply for hospital charges while maternity fees remain at US$25. However, residents have expressed their disappointment over the failure to include their input which they suggested during the pre-budget consultation meetings.
According to Harare Residents Trust director, Mr Precious Shumba residents from high density suburbs had indicated they were prepared to pay between US$15 and US$20 or the equivalent in local currency at the official bank rate.
But the city’s proposed rates and service charges put the total figure for high density property owners at US$31.
This has raised doubts among ratepayers on whether they should continue taking part in the council budget meetings given their suggestions are perennially ignored and council just consults them to fulfil an annual ritual to be seen to be in compliance with local government laws requiring such consultations to take place.
Zimbabwe National Organisation of Associations and Residents Trusts (ZNOART) national chairperson Mr Shalvar Chikomba added another dimension to the problems residents have with the City of Harare’s financial plan for 2023.
He said council takes ratepayers for granted and continued to do so this year because the dates of the meetings were announced at short notice leaving residents without adequate time to prepare for the meetings. Mr Chikomba argues that council is merely milking property owners and residents because it is collecting money but not providing services.
The Finance and Economic Development Committee chairperson Councillor Costa Mande announced the budget even before some questions residents had from the budget consultations had been fully responded to by council officials.
In Ward 7 (Avondale), in particular, some residents were still to be given answers on questions they raised but the municipality still went ahead and announced its budget proposals.