Mayor: Harare needs ‘billions’ to end its troubles

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By Leopold Munhende

HARARE need “billions” of dollars to get over with its myriad problems, city mayor Herbert Gomba said Tuesday.

Gomba, who was giving his State of the City Address (SOCA) at Town House, said government’s RTGS$37.4 million injection into council coffers was a drop in the ocean.

In his address, the MDC official focused on the worsening water crisis in the city which has seen residents go without the necessity.

“Government chipped in with RTGS$37, 4 million but I can tell you that we need billions to fix this city’s problems.

“In order to enhance revenue collection, we are also lobbying parliament to make legislative reforms that will give powers to the council to execute garnishing orders, just like Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) so as to recover over ZWL$800 million we are owed by ratepayers,” said Gomba.

“Residents should be in a position to pay rates for services rendered to them by council. They should now be in a position to pay rates to restart service provision.”

The country’s biggest local authority is keen to see central government declare the crisis as a national disaster to pave way for a concerted response to the disaster.

Gomba said residents should now be prepared to pay council rates, not just to get services but to restart the rundown council systems.

“Residents should be in a position to pay rates for services rendered to them by council, they should now be in a position to pay rates to restart service provision,” he said.

Gomba bemoaned council’s ballooning responsibilities and need for beautification infrastructural development, investment in waste disposal and roads rehabilitation.

In a major cost cutting measure, the mayor announced council will no longer be sponsoring its flagship premiership football team, Harare City FC from next season.

The team has been gobbling over a million dollars every season with sections of Harare’s community demanding its disbandment for allegedly being a sheer waste of scarce council resources.

Council is also seeking approval from government to charge selected rate payers in foreign currency.

Said the mayor, “Council is also engaging government in a bid to secure authority to charge certain ratepayers, services and products in forex.

“This will allow council to invest in service delivery initiatives such as procurement of plant and equipment.

“The above is not peculiar to Harare alone, because some fast food outlets designated tourism facilities, are allowed to charge in forex.”

Gomba said council was owed over RTGS$850 million by ordinary rate payers and government.

Tuesday’s address by the city’s number one resident was graced by former city mayors Muchadeyi Masunda and Bernard Manyenyeni.

Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) director Loreen Mupasiri welcomed the address by the mayor but urged him to drop his beautification mantra in the current crisis.

“He cannot be talking of beautification at a time we are having all these challenges in water supply and sewer reticulation,” she said.