Harare Commission jumps the gun

Staff Writer

HARARE’S newly appointed commission has started implementing parts of the city’s draft 2005 budget without presenting it to stakeholders first or to the parent ministry for approval.


The hiking of vehicle licence, vending and other charges this week without prior notification to the public sparked a serious row between residents and the local authority. Vehicle licences went up by over 1 000% while vending fees were raised 10-fold last week.


The licence fee for a light motor vehicle, for instance, which previously cost $16 000 for a four-month term, now costs $184 000 while the annual fee rose from $48 000 to $552 000.


Heavy vehicles which were previously licensed at $65 605 per term have now seen their cost shoot up to $700 000.


Officials in the city treasury department confirmed that council had started effecting the 2005 budget proposals on miscellaneous charges.


“Sections in which the budget proposals have been effected do not normally go through the budgeting process,” an official said. “These are small charges which fall under the 25A schedule of the budgeting process. These charges are reviewed each year and are subject to full council approval,” he said.


Residents who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent however said under normal circumstances a budget should be implemented in its totality after going through the budget formulation process.


The process involves stakeholder consultations, budget presentation, a month of advertising and taking responses, submission to the minister for approval and then implementation.


By the end of October each year all local authorities are expected to submit their budgets to the ministry for approval, but up to now Harare has not presented its budget to stakeholders because of problems caused by government interference in council affairs. The delays will prejudice the cash-strapped city of billions of dollars in uncollected revenue.


Combined Harare Residents Association chairman Mike Davies said the increases were unsanctioned and called on the residents to ignore them.


“Noone has been consulted on these increases,” Davies said. “Even the minister has not seen or approved the figures so there is no way residents can conform to them.”