Growing calls for rates boycott

17 Jun, 2022 - 00:06 0 Views
Growing calls for rates boycott An artist’s impression of how Greendale Shopping Centre (commonly known as PaGomba), currently undergoing renovations, will look like when refurbishments are completed. The new owners, Young Blood Investments Private Limited, injected US$500 000 to spruce up the shopping centre.


Suburban Reporter 

THERE are growing calls among residents in some northern suburbs to stop paying the City of Harare until the municipality provides services to ratepayers.

In some suburbs, residents are also resorting to dumping uncollected garbage at the City of Harare’s district offices.

Others are encouraging fellow residents to demand that the municipality scraps their refuse collection charges and water charges because the council is failing to provide these services.

In Highlands residents have been dumping their uncollected rubbish at the district office in the suburb arguing that they were paying their bills but the rubbish was not being collected.

 The residents, who said they were up to date with their rates and service charges payments, justified their actions saying it was time for the City of Harare officials to do something about service delivery in the capital city.

Those who have engaged private refuse collectors said they wished the private companies could also dump the rubbish at the Highlands district office.

In Mt Pleasant some residents indicated that they had told their district officer Mrs Marian Mverechena that they would also start dumping their uncollected garbage at the district office in the suburb.

However, former Harare Mayor and Councillor for Mt Pleasant (Ward 17) Mr Bernard Manyenyeni expressed concern whether this was the right approach to the garbage crisis facing the capital city.

Complaints by Highlands residents also confirmed the recent revelation by a top city official that the municipality was overcharging paying residents to cover up the deficit from defaulting ratepayers. The residents also complained that they were being billed twice in one month for refuse collection, which was not being provided.

The residents indicated that their rates bills were continuously going up with some indicating the figure they paid in May had more than trebled in June. For instance, residents who paid RTGS$15 000 in May were being asked to pay RTGS$48 000 for June.

Last week, residents’ representative bodies in Harare lambasted the City of Harare for the deliberate daylight robbery against residents by continuing to increase rates for paying ratepayers.

Borrowdale Ratepayers and Residents Association (BRRA) chairperson Mr Robert Mutyasira said that they will not standby as the local authority continues to rob the residents.

He said instead of penalising the paying residents the municipality should be rewarding them for their consistency in meeting their monthly financial obligations.

“The inability of council to put in place an effective billing system and a debt recovery regime is astounding. We are on record saying the issues at council could be deliberate and purposed for fleecing residents under the guise of system breakdowns. We fail to come to terms with how our council has known corporate and domestic debtors and are not exerting the necessary pressure on them to regularise their accounts. The idea of raising the premium on compliant residents and ratepayers to compensate for council deficits is diabolic. If anything, those in compliance should be rewarded for their consistency.  

“We urge the city fathers to give this matter the priority and urgency it deserves as doing otherwise will be counterproductive. The debtor’s portfolio will continue to balloon as more residents get to realise there are no consequences for non-compliance,” said Mr Mutyasira.

Ward 7 Residents and Ratepayers Association (W7RRA) said council has relaxed on collecting revenue from their biggest debtors and have found it easier to just over bill residents instead. 

“Not for the first time, City of Harare is demonstrating how it pretends to solve problems by disowning them. And making them someone else’s problems. The failure to raise income is fundamentally a failure of CoH. It has dropped the ball and is completely out of its depth, in billing residents accurately and regularly and chasing debtors, especially the biggest, usually institutional debtors – efficiently and effectively. It has gotten lazy and very comfortable in having conscientious residents rushing to pay their rates month in, month out. But the failure of a growing number of private household residents to pay their rates is ultimately a response to CoH’s own failure to deliver proper service in the first place.

“It is hard to go out of one’s way to pay when you have not been serviced properly, regularly and efficiently, and you don’t know what your rates bill is,” said W7RRA vice chairperson Mr John Vekris.

The Zimbabwe Combined Residents and Ratepayers Association (ZICORRA) urged the local authority to improve service delivery to re-establish trust with the residents. 

 “It’s really a sad state of affairs and is a reflection of how residents have lost trust and confidence in council as an institution. Hence the defaults in payments. City of Harare must put its house in order and improve service delivery. The more refuse is uncollected and water woes continue, the more defaulters they will get,” said ZICORRA coordinator for Harare Mr Lawrence Kuleya. 

Two weeks ago, a top city official told Suburban a small percentage of residents were paying their monthly bills leaving the municipality with a paralysing deficit and unable to fund services.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, revealed that the municipality’s current charges which have drawn concern from paying ratepayers were higher because the local authority was trying to keep afloat.

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