Rates hike expose council rot

By Rungano Dzikira

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) led Harare City Council (HCC) has approved a 2020 budget which has raised property rates at least 16 fold as well as agreeing a shock 400% increase in water and refuse collection bills.

The increase of rates, however, looks out of sync with the service delivery currently being provided in the capital city as garbage is piled up in most townships and residents continue scrounging for safe water for domestic use.

According to the Harare Residents Association, most parts of Harare West have limited or no access to council water, while most parts of the city has intermittent supply of unsafe tap water for consumption.

“Refuse collection remains a problem. Residents have resorted to buying water for consumption yet they still have to pay for such disservice. Harare council management and service to residents has to improve,” said the residents association in a statement.

Recently, residents were up in arms with the council over the chaotic billing system resulting from the recently adopted SAGE Evolution system, phasing out the (BIQ) billing system.

According to the new fees contained in a supplementary water, sanitation and hygiene tariffs special council meeting resolution, high density residents now fork out $90 per first five cubic metres up from $20 while also paying $189 up from $41 for sewer charges.

Apart from water and refuse charges, council also doubled rents for properties it leases. High density suburbs where residents pay the lowest rates, property tax rates are up to $56.

Burial charges for adults in Area A+ graves including warren Hills and Greendale cemetery are now $2 084 up from $391. For area A it is now 1045 up from $196, while in Area B it is $800, up from $150.