I HAVE it on good authority that car licence fees to be imposed by the city of Harare for light vehicles, which cover most cars, will be fixed at $624 000 for the year 2005, and no doubt heavier vehicles will attract higher licences.
Simple arithmetic will show that this is equivalent to $208 000 per four-month term or $52 000 per month, or about $1 733 per day.
When compared with the existing rate of $18 400 per licence term of four months, the rise to $208 000 represents an increase of 1 030%.
Didn’t a government minister say a few months ago that inflation was declining, and what would he say to this massive hike? Many vehicle owners wishing to renew their licences in January for the first four-month term of this year were told that the amount payable had been increased to $184 000, and had no choice but to pay this amount which was later revised to $18 400, a difference of $165 600 overpaid for each vehicle by many people.
I have it on equally good authority that the city of Harare has taken it upon itself not to refund those who paid the excess, and that this will be set off against licences payable for the next term.
Irrespective of how inconvenient this might be for the city, is it legal for the city to arbitrarily hold the public’s money in this fashion without the public having any say in the matter?
Is this not an ingenious and cunning form of extortion abhorrent in any self-respecting, honest local authority? The city should not be allowed to get away with this enforced interest-free “borrowing” from the public.
It is high time government stepped in to pay refunds and help lay down affordable licence fees for the future.