HARARE City Council’s move to fine victims of the government-driven clean-up exercise for uncollected rubble from their backyards has sparked massive dumping of rubbish and rubble in public
places in the high-density suburbs.
Residents of Mbare have resorted to dumping rubble and uncollected refuse at open spaces such as road junctions, schoolyards and market places to avoid the charges.
At George Stark High School for example, almost half a soccer pitch is covered with rubble.
The commission running the affairs of the city announced numerous dubious rates, among them a $3 million penalty for uncollected rubble.
Civic groups have attacked the commission chaired by Sekasai Makwavarara arguing that there is no logical justification for the inhuman treatment of residents, especially at the hands of a local authority which has failed to provide basic services.
“It’s either they (council) are trying to destroy the evidence that Operation Murambatsvina ever took place ahead of the much talked about (UN secretary-general Kofi) Annan’s visit to Harare or this is a fund-raising project,” said Joseph Ross of the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA).
Ross said that the strategies being employed by the council in this seemingly fund-raising project are pathetic as they cannot sustain long-term goals.
The city declared that it was broke twice this year, resulting in delayed salaries. In April, salaries had to be paid directly from rates-collecting halls.
CHRA this week called on the residents to boycott paying the “unjustified” rates to council saying there was no transparency in the collection of the penalties.
The city council has threatened those who fail to comply with arrests or losing their houses, a threat frowned upon by CHRA.
“Council does not have the legality to confiscate any house besides the ones that they built for their own workers. They are just taking advantage of people’s ignorance of their rights,” CHRA said.