City of Harare Needs to Totally Decentralise Payment System

Harare- the Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT) has been closely following the conduct of the City of Harare’s Finance Department and is now convinced than ever that the local authority has no immediate plans to bring convenience to the ratepayers. This statement is a direct rebuke of the City of Harare over its centralised financial management system which makes Rowan Martin the only place where disgruntled ratepayers have to go to for correction of erroneous billing or clarification of billing concerns, even to provide proof of electronic payments. On 8 June 2018, the City of Harare issued a statement advising ratepayers to bring their Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) proof of payment to Rowan Martin Building so that the council processes their receipts. City of Harare financial system should be decentralised to be readily accessible and available in the local communities where ratepayers live. Traveling to Rowan Martin is an unjustified expense which should not be tolerated by all ratepayers. These services must be availed where the people stay.

It is the City of Harare that has the duty and obligation to facilitate convenient payment of bills by ratepayers, not the other way round. If the City of Harare has no capacity to develop its internal payment systems to immediately reflect payments made, then that should not be the burden of ratepayers to incur further expenses travelling to the City Centre, and then walk or hire taxis to Rowan Martin Building. It is nearly three kilometres from Market Square to Rowan Martin Building, two kilometres from CopaCabana, and nearly five kilometres from Fourth Street bus terminus. These distances are a great inconvenience to the ratepayers who have no transport of their own. Considering that the majority of the ratepayers from the high density areas are struggling to make ends meet, the City of Harare has to put in place a financial system that ensures that once one pays using any one of their electronic payment systems, some officials in the City’s Finance Department should be able to capture all this information showing records of payment for ratepayers. How they fail to do this boggles the mind, because as far as we are concerned in the HRT, the City of Harare has some of the highest paid workers in Zimbabwe, yet they are reluctant to do their proper work. Instead, they want it easiest, despite it being the greatest inconvenience that they can bring to the life of a ratepayer.

Residents should have the convenience of paying their bills electronically or at their local district council offices and their bills should be the ones to reflect the payments made without any undue delays. This advertisement advising residents to go to Rowan Martin Building is a clear testimony that the City of Harare’s billing system is centralised, chaotic and not fully networked to serve the ratepayers, and give them convenience all the time.

In light of the above issues concerning the City’s billing system, HRT urges the City of Harare to address its billing system by totally decentralising it so that the residents wherever they are have convenience when they want to pay or check their bills. It is of great concern to residents of Arcadia, Braeside, St Martins, Msasa Park, Ardbennie that they have no local district offices from where they could easily access council offices for other services other than payment of bills and collection of refuse collection bins. Residents of Glen Norah technically have no District Office because their so-called office is located at the edges of Lusaka, Highfield near their Rutsanana Clinic. This also means residents from Glen Norah A and B have to travel more than five kilometres either walking or using kombis in order to access council offices. Sadly, but true, the Glen Norah District Office is a former farm house, and is in a bad state. The HRT calls on the City of Harare to immediately decentralise its services and set up satellite council offices under the local District Office so that residents have a connection with their local key service provider. Most ratepayers are aged above 60 years and for them to be moving to Rowan Martin just to present proofs of payment is an inconvenience that should never exist in this age of technology. This is an unnecessary burden. This process should be decentralized to all local communities for easy access. Centralised systems discourage residents and the billing chaos will continue unless the Council listens to the ratepayers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *