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Commission headed for clash with Gono

Augustine Mukaro

THE commission running the affairs of Harare City Council is headed for a clash with Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono over increases in rates in the 2005 budget.

The Sekesai Makwavarara-chaired commission wants to increase rates by between 300 and 600% against Gono’s directive that local authorities and parastatals may not raise their charges by more than 70%.

Gono gave the directive when he presented his fourth quarter monetary policy in January.

Budget proposals being presented by Makwavarara and her team at consultative meetings in the capital show that rates for council services could shoot by a minimum 300%.

Proposals for refuse collection will shoot from $1 363 per bin collected to $7 000 per month. The price of graves will rise from $65 000 to $250 000.

Harare acting city treasurer Cosmas Zvikaramba said Gono’s 70% benchmark was not sustainable given the state of council infrastructure and demand for services.

“We look at the reality on the ground,” Zvikaramba said. “The 70% would not make an impact on the current state of council infrastructure.”

The council sewerage system and water reticulation need a complete overhaul. An estimated 30% of Harare’s treated water is lost through leakages while high-density residential areas are plagued with burst sewer pipes. Mountains of uncollected garbage have become a common sight at every corner of the central business district.

The Makwavarara commission is seeking to legitimise a $1,4 trillion budget it crafted without consulting ratepayers and other stakeholders.

Zvikaramba said the budget would be presented in April.

“The month of March will be for advertising,” Zvikaramba said, adding; “Presentation will be done in April. Thereafter, charges which do not require central government approval will be implemented right away while other charges would be submitted to the parent ministry.”

Zvikaramba also said the delay in the budget presentation was likely to prejudice council of more that $400 billion.

“Implementation of the 2005 budget would raise council revenue collection from the current $30 billion a month to $100 billion. So any delay means we will be losing the same amounts,” he said.

Under normal circumstances, the budget consultation process shou-ld be held at least six months before presentation so that the final proposals incorporate stakeholders’ contributions.

Council ties with stakeholders were severed when Makwavarara wrestled power from the now dismissed Engineer Elias Mudzuri.

Harare was supposed to submit its budget proposals to the ministry by

October 30 last year.

Bulawayo last December unveiled a $1,1 trillion budget that will see tariffs rising by 250% by July.

The Harare City Council has for the second year running missed the deadline to submit its budget to the Local Government ministry for approval.

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