Harare and Chitungwiza Councils in serious money crisis

Rubbish piling up in Harare

By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
07 July, 2014

Zimbabwe’s two largest municipalities are facing a money crisis that has seen workers go unpaid for months and uncollected rubbish piling up as service delivery virtually collapses.

The capital Harare and nearby town of Chitungwiza are facing similar problems, with residents complaining that management is overpaid while ordinary workers suffer without wages and residents go without running water, rubbish collection and other services that they are paying for.

The situation in Harare will soon get worse, following a garnishing order issued by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authorities (Zimra), which required the city to pay over $40 million in outstanding taxes and penalties.

Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni admitted the order comes at time when they were about to pay some workers who have gone without salaries for months and it will also “negatively affect” service delivery, meaning there will be even more rubbish piling up and reduced provision of water and other services.

The town clerk Tendai Mahachi continues to take home a shocking $37,000 per month while the top 20 directors are reportedly using up $500,000 per month in salaries. This is despite an order from government limiting monthly salaries of executives in government institutions.

In Chitungwiza the workers have resorted to an indefinite strike, which started last week after management failed to pay their wages for a whole year and have been secretive about the budget and revenue collected from residents. The council insists they are owed $27 million by residents and owe $10 million to workers.

Arthur Taderera from the Chitungwiza Residents and Ratepayers Association (CRRA) said they have been requesting a schedule of expenditure from management but none has been provided so far and there has been no communication since two scheduled meetings were cancelled.

“Litter is almost everywhere in the township but in some places it is even worse because people are dumping at the corner sites and whatever place they can,” Tadererai told SW Radio Africa.

He added: “Water, water, there has been no running water in many places and to add insult to injury the council now has embarked on hiring a debt collector for services which were not rendered.”

According to NewZimbabwe.com, the debt collector is a law firm owned by the ZANU PF former MP for Chivi South, Paul Mangwana. The law firm, Mangwana and Partners, has reportedly been sending letters of demand to residents, warning them to pay or risk having their property attached.

Residents in Harare are also receiving demand letters from debt collectors hired by the council, warning them of properties being attached if they fail to pay. The city says it is owed a total of nearly $254 million by ratepayers as of May, 2014. The majority, $130 million, is owed by industry with residents owing $105 million.

But in both Harare and Chitungwiza residents are refusing to pay for services that they are not getting, especially running water, rubbish collection and road repairs. Exorbitant salaries paid to management also remains a critical issue.

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