Blessings Chidakwa Municipal Reporter
Harare residents have vowed to resist paying rates until the ineptitude MDC-led Harare City Council honours its obligations of offering at least basic services like water provision, refuse collection and road maintenance.
The opposition led council is owed $5, 5 billion and has run down the city over the years as roads are hardly passable due to potholes with some suburbs like Mabvuku having gone for close to a decade without receiving tap water.
In a statement, Harare Residents Trust director Mr Precious Shumba said service delivery across Harare is worsening with no solution in sight.
“The state of service delivery is a clear reflection that some things are not going on well in the City of Harare.
“Residents have no moral obligation to pay for services that have not been rendered by the council,” he said.
In a statement, Harare City Council insisted that without payment for the services, they remain unable to deliver the services.
“Council requires the money to fund service delivery such as water provision, road repairs, street lighting, garbage collection, grass cutting, medicine at its clinics and to fund salaries.
“City employees are part of the service delivery matrix. Without a salary, the employees are unable to report for work and to feed their families. Failure by stakeholders to pay for service is stalling progress in the city as residents and business fund service delivery,” said the council.
Mr Shumba said residents expect the local authority, as the chief provider of public social services to the citizens, to provide leadership and policy direction.
“Refuse collection is nearly non-existent with only about nine of the 46 refuse compactors available to service the 46 wards of Harare. Roads across the suburbs including the central business district are in a dangerous state of damage and heavily potholed.
“Overgrown grass along the main roads and streets on verges are being left unattended. Most wetlands in the communities have been converted into residential areas with an increasing number of illegal settlements emerging without corresponding infrastructure development,” he said.
Mr Shumba said residents have always complained of the failure by the council to comply with refuse collection schedules.
“Resultantly, refuse dumps have resurfaced across the suburbs and are increasing by the day. The HRT residents’ structures have reported of spillage of skip bins thus contaminating the environment.
“This has put the council’s failures in the open without anywhere to hide. In light of these identified refuse collection challenges, the HRT continues to document the failures of the council against the debts accumulating on their household bills,” he said.
Mr Shumba said to worsen the situation, the council is not issuing monthly household bill statements to ratepayers.
“However, the debts continue to accumulate for most ratepayers, and they do not know how much exactly they owe the council,” he said.