City of Harare has to tame its Appetite for Spending Ratepayers’ Money.
15 April 2019, Harare- The Harare Residents Trust (HRT) is increasingly alarmed at the ballooning expenditure by the new Council which is spending more time in workshops outside Harare than being with the Ratepayers and addressing the unpaid salaries of council employees. The City of Harare is on a rampant spree to abuse ratepayers’ money at a time they have raised the red flag over declining revenues. This year alone the newly elected councillors and some senior managers have held eleven workshops at Kadoma Hotel with an average attendance of ninety participants. The City of Harare is spending averagely two hundred dollars in hotel accommodation and meals per day on each delegate to the unnecessary workshops. Nearly twelve councillors in the Audit Committee led by Harare City Council Deputy Mayor councillor Enoch Mupamaonde and about twelve officials are at Kadoma Hotel for a workshop which started on Thursday 11 April 2019 and ended on Sunday 14 April 2019. Another workshop at the same hotel involve senior managers, heads of department, and the town clerk, numbering about fifty eight (58) officials are holding a strategic review meeting ending Monday 15 April 2019, and it began on Friday 12 April 2019.
It is common cause that the City of Harare has the underutilized Harare House at its disposal and the Town House Chambers and their community halls where Council Committees can hold workshops without incurring further expenses to the Ratepayers’ account. The Harare House is the Mayoral mansion, which was built for the then Executive Mayor Solomon Tawengwa. It remains underutilized and available for council meetings. Despite this vast resource at their disposal, the Councillors and Council management are shunning it, preferring hotels outside of Harare. There are vast opportunities to hold productive workshops at other Harare venues which would be cheaper and more convenient for the City of Harare.
According to concerned councillors and disgruntled low ranking employees, the City of Harare has held an estimated 30 workshops in Victoria Falls, Leopard Rock Hotel, Vumba, Troutbeck Inn, Nyanga, and Kadoma Hotel since the new councillors were sworn into office after the 30 July 2018 elections. The Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing has previously castigated local authorities for conducting their workshops outside their areas of jurisdiction saying that it was a waste of ratepayers’ money. Expenditures for strategic objectives are necessary and relevant. However, when the expenditures are apparently financially crippling the institution that they are supposed to build up, then the HRT urges the Central Government to intervene in order to save the ratepayers from this insatiable appetite to spend by the City of Harare. It is the Capital City that suffers as Councillors and Management take unending turns to milk dry the ratepayers’ coffers in the name of strategic planning and policy reviews through workshops far away from Harare.
At the end of these workshops which ran concurrently at Kadoma Hotel, each Councillor is set to receive around$1 000 each in allowances while senior management will take around $800. Given the figures of attendance, an estimated $12 000 will be paid to the Councillors, and $46 400 will be paid to the management’s 58 officials. The ratepayers are outraged by the failure by the council to collect garbage from the residential areas. Yet each of the officials traveled in their personal vehicles, after
securing 40 litres of fuel each, totaling 2 320 litres of fuel on top of the daily allowances they
receive. A litre of petrol is currently selling for RTGS$3.43 while diesel is going for RTGS$3.20. This
means that on each vehicle council is spending about RTGS$140 on the 40 litres of fuel, thus about
RTGS$8 000 for the fleet of vehicles for the council management to this workshop alone. The Harare
City Council is consistently telling ratepayers that their vehicles are grounded due to breakdowns
and shortages of fuel. However, on scrutiny of the expenditure trends, the Harare Residents’ Trust
concludes that the priorities at Town House are skewed and have no relation to improvement of
service delivery and the living conditions of ratepayers.
Officials say that the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) and the City of Harare have made an
arrangement to offset the outstanding rates for Tourism House at the intersection of Samora Machel
Avenue and Julius Nyerere Way. According to the said arrangement, the City of Harare no longer has
to pay for the hotel bookings. The Tourism House reportedly has to pay about RTGS$150 000 in
monthly rates to the Council. So from the bookings, the City of Harare deducts from the huge debt
owed by the tourism building. What this means is that the City of Harare is on a default expenditure
mode, and continues to dig deeper into the council’s monthly revenues, thereby disadvantaging
ratepayers who are struggling on to pay their rates for services largely not provided. The frightening
part is that the City of Harare has increased its workforce from around 7 500 workers as in 2016, to
around plus 9 000 in 2018, and presently the workforce reportedly stands at around 12 100. The 800
municipal police officers who were recruited through partisan ward councillors as rewards to
political party activists are said to be gobbling around RTGS$1, 379 million every month, while the
total wage bill is now hovering above $12,4 million every month. The total monthly revenue that
they are raising from rates and rentals is RTGS$14, 2 million which is insufficient to cover
administration, salaries and allowances, and service provision. The most depressing situation is that
the City of Harare owes its huge workforce five months in salaries and allowances, plus statutory
obligations. Based on the above figures secured through confidential sources among Councillors and
management, the ratepayers are simply making payments in order to fund the salaries, allowances,
statutory obligations and workshops for the councillors, their management and their new partisan
employees who are all contributing to the demise of the City of Harare.
The revenue and expenditure distribution in the City of Harare is skewed against the ratepayers,
thus service delivery is not set to improve anytime soon. If the City of Harare wants the full
cooperation and support of the ratepayers they must restore the ration of 70 percent towards
service delivery and 30 percent for salaries, allowances and administration in their revenue
distribution. Currently there is nothing or very little available for service delivery. The prevalent
situation in the Harare City Council calls on the Government to intervene by bringing order to
expenditures on workshops outside their area of jurisdiction, and to stop with immediate effect the
continued recruitment of council workers along partisan lines. The City of Harare needs to be
providing refuse collection services consistently because they continue to charge ratepayers, yet
they are rarely collecting garbage in residential areas. Ratepayers cannot be held at ransom by a
careless unaccountable and seemingly irresponsible council management.
Contact Details: firstname.lastname@example.orgemail@example.com, 0772 869 294/0772 380 927,