Despite a lack of participation in the budget consultation meetings (see Harare News, November), some residents in Harare have hailed the 2015 budget which they said addresses most of the City’s priority areas. Adopted on 30 October, the budget now awaits government approval.
Harare is expected to raise a total of $272.7 million against projected expenditure of $272.4 million leaving council with a surplus of $0.3 million. The major earnings for council are expected to come from property taxes at $105.3 million, and Harare Water which is expected to rake in $102 million. Other revenue sources are expected to bring $65.4 million into council coffers during 2015.
No tariff increases have been proposed for Harare, for the fifth year in a row. Rates for council services such as water, hospital fees and property taxes remain unchanged with the exception of hostel rentals, which have been reduced from $23 to $10. The City has also proposed to scrap fixed water charges in residential areas such as Borrowdale that have gone for years without receiving water.
Councillor for Mufakose, Ward 35’s Enock Mupamawonde, said that most of the feelings and sentiments of residents that were gathered in Harare’s 46 wards during the consultative meetings were reflected in the budget.
“Indeed it is a pro-resident budget because the most prominent features of this budget is that of being a still budget, as well as the 10% ward retention. According to the income and expenditure statement for 2015, the broad observation is that it is a still budget where all categories of rates remain unchanged,” said Mupamawonde.
Harare’s 2015 budget approved the 10% retention for wards, a move welcomed by residents. Edison Zvavamwe (29) from Newlands said the 10% retention will allow for decentralisation of services.
“If properly adopted, the 10% retention will go a long way in addressing service delivery at ward level. However, there is need for proper management of the funds to guard against abuse by those who will be responsible,” said Zvavamwe.
Water supply is expected to increase by 200 mega litres to 650 mega litres per day from the current supply of 450 mega litres per day due to the on-going rehabilitation of Morton Jaffray and Prince Edward water works as well as on Firle and Crowborough sewage treatment plants.
Sharon Magodyo, community coordinator for Harare Residents Trust (HRT), said that the City’s budget was pointing in the right direction because it has managed to prioritise water provision and the repair of roads, but lamented that prioritisation and implementation are two different things.
“The City claims that Morton Jaffray water works rehabilitation is on course and on schedule but does not match output on the ground. As residents we feel the pangs of inconsistent water supply and we start wondering whether the funds borrowed for the renovations of the water plant are being channelled towards the intended purpose other than the buying of luxurious Grand Cherokees for top executives and staff costs,” said Magodyo.
The budget also plans to attend to: 53km of failed roads which will be reconstructed and rehabilitated; eight kilometres of roads in the CBD and trunk routes will receive asphalt overlay; 120km will be re-sealed with spray and chip; 227km will receive re-gravelling and compaction of road verges; 16km of underground storm water pipes will be unblocked; 4,000 broken road signs will be replaced and six footbridges will be constructed.
However, Magodyo said that council should not make plans for road rehabilitation with resources from ZINARA without a standing agreement which guarantees council funds. ZINARA has in the past years struggled to release Harare’s share from road license fees.
“Council is speculating and creating grounds to hide behind ZINARA without accounting for the funds coming from the property tax on residents’ bills,” alleged Magodyo.