Residents urge the City of Harare to deliver monthly bills.

16 December 2020, Harare– The majority of Harare residents have not received their monthly bills since June 2020. Before June, the last bills had been delivered in April 2020, which consolidated rates for January, February and March 2020. The City of Harare has not given adequate justifications and explanations. Residents are concerned that they are being build for estimated water consumption and refuse collection services not rendered. In view of this development, the Harare Residents Trust (HRT) urges the City of Harare to issue monthly bills to ratepayers, deploy their water meter readers to physically do monthly household water meter readings and provide a consistent refuse collection service.

The Harare City Council is not fulfilling its duties as outlined in the Urban Councils’ Act (Chapter 29.15). There is no refuse collection in most suburbs, resulting in increased heaps of uncollected garbage at shopping centres, open spaces, street corners and in drainages. Residents last received their household bills in June 2020. It is now December 2020 and the City of Harare has not bothered to explain or justify this unprecedented anomaly in public governance. However, the City of Harare has increased its rates three times this year alone. Consequently, most ratepayers have accumulated unmanageable debt to the Council. The total amount of money that residents owe to the City includes water consumption and refuse collection charges. They have water meter readers who are not doing household water meter readings. The City of Harare is not providing ratepayers with monthly rates bills to keep them up to date with their rates payment statuses.  The residents are complaining that the bills are not affordable and there is no hope for paying them. With the Covid-19 outbreak there is no hope that the City of Harare would be able to recover the accumulating debt by ratepayers.

In view, of the failures by the City of Harare to issue monthly rate bills, the HRT recommends the following;

  1. To deploy water meter readers every month to physically do household meter readings, so that water consumption bills are not estimated.
  2. To deploy refuse collectors to collect garbage every week as per billing system, to avoid and the emergence of dumping sites.
  3. To facilitate reasonable payments plan for rate payers to clear their outstanding arrears.
  4. The refuse collectors must collect all garbage in the community without being selective to pick what type of garbage they want to collect from households.
  5. Consider, reviewing the billing system in use. The City of Harare could revert to the BIQ revealing system.
  6. The Finance and Development Committee and the Finance Department should partner civil society organisations, residents and business community to educate residents on its service delivery priorities and challenges.
  7. The City of Harare should be transparent and accountable on its expenditures and incomes. It should seriously consider making available to the public critical information about the Council’s incomes and expenditures.

In summation, the City Council has failed to fulfil its duties in terms of delivering monthly rates bills and to provide refuse collection services. As long as residents are not receiving the services, it will remain a huge task for the City of Harare to receive payments from disgruntled residents. Service provision suffers from poor governance systems. Accountability and transparency should be inculcated in the council management and governance systems.  

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Contact Details: hretrust79@gmail.com, info@hrt.org.zw, 08677109781, and 0772 380 927, 0772 869294, www.hrt.org.zw

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