After failing to get 2024 budget approved, Harare City Council goes after US$70 million debt to meet needs

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By Alois Vinga

THE Harare City Council (HCC) has tabled plans to recover a staggering US$70 million owed by residents and other stakeholders on the back of an outcry indicating the local authority’s challenged position to meet critical financial needs.

The details were revealed Tuesday during a press conference amid indications that the government and the business community were this time around among the least owing debtors.

Speaking on the developments, the HCC Chamber Secretary Warren Chiwawa said all legal systems have since been put in place to address the problem.

“Certainly, the amount has to be recovered. We have always used litigation as a tool where we rely on our internal capacity as well as external lawyers as recovery strategies. Previously we also used to augment these strategies with debt collectors but we have since stopped such practices following concerns raised by our stakeholders,” he said.

According to the HCC Finance Committee’s records out of the total US$70 million, the major chunk is owed by the residents with other key stakeholders like the industry and the government and the dormitory towns being the least debtors.

“For now the government is not owing much since we have had lots of engagement. Since our budget was not approved we resolved to engage our debtors and this included the government. I can safely say those funds have managed to sustain us up to now,” said the Finance Committee.

Harare City Council’s 2024 budget proposal was rejected by the government after failing to meet certain guidelines. A revised budget was resubmitted and was approved recently.

The local authority has since set up teams that will be following up on the debts and if this fails options such as cutting off water supplies among others which respect the concerns of stakeholders will be explored.

Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume in May 2024 threatened to post names of debtors on social media platforms and at all district offices in Harare.