Harare Council faces cash crunch

HARARE - The Harare City Council account continues to dry up, with mounting debt revenue from water dropping from $6 million to $4 million in the first quarter.

“The drop has been gradual since the beginning of the year,” said town clerk Tendai Mahachi without specifying the reasons for the slide.

The local authority is currently struggling to provide water to its ratepayers.

According to Mahachi, the development has affected other maintenance projects that the city has been doing.

“The low revenue inflows have forced Harare water to scale down projects being funded from revenue. These include Firle sewage works rehabilitation, Dzivaresekwa pump station as well as water and sewerage pipe replacement projects,” said Mahachi.

Only last week the city plunged into darkness when national energy supplier the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) cut off supplies over an estimated $774 million bill.

Two other council facilities, Cleveland House and Remembrance Drive, have reportedly gone without electricity for at least five days.

Cleveland House is where the urban planning services and the engineering departments are based, while Remembrance Drive is home to the housing department and its divisions.

Harare water also owes Zesa $45 million, accumulated over 45 months, with monthly power consumption at $1 million a month at its water treatment plants, according to media reports.

Though the authority has been criticised following the disconnection, it claims the issue has been resolved amicably.

Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda recently disclosed that the council requires $20 million on a monthly basis for its operations.

Council is owed about $300 million in unpaid bills by government departments, the corporate sector and residents.

Sources within council say, outside high defaulters, corruption has also significantly led to the drop. - Wendy Muperi


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