'HCC abusing ward retention scheme'

HARARE - Harare City Council (HCC) residents are complaining that the 25 percent ward retention scheme meant to benefit communities is being abused.

According to the Harare Residents Trust chairperson Precious Shumba, the scheme meant to benefit residents is being abused by council to pay its bureaucrats’ hefty salaries.

The city’s 25 percent ward retention scheme has been a bone of contention in council meetings.

“The 25 percent ward retention scheme by the City of Harare has technically collapsed after city bureaucrats connived to frustrate residents from accessing their 25 percent monthly disbursement to facilitate community development.

“Whenever the Ward Development Committees (WDC), chaired by their respective ward councillors make a request for the release of the 25 percent for community development, the bureaucrats are repeatedly lying that there is no money because of low revenue inflows,” Shumba said.

He also argued that from the $13 million being collected every month, 77 percent goes towards paying salaries while the remaining 23 percent goes towards service delivery.

Shumba said residents have insisted from the little revenue that is generated, council should deduct the 25 percent and allocate it to the WDC for community development.

“Excess labour must be retired, given an option for early retirement, or resolve all outstanding labour matters so that non-essential labour force is relieved of their duties. Harare City Council currently has more than 8 000 employees,” he said.

HCC spokesperson Michael Chideme told the Daily News the city has been faced with some challenges in meeting its obligations.

He said the city was collecting very little from rates payment, making it difficult to provide some of its services.

“We have always argued that the more people pay, the more flexible council is to meet its obligations. When we are financially constrained, there are areas that will suffer because of that,” Chideme said.

In 2016, Borrowdale councillor Allan Markham boycotted attending ward meetings arguing that he could not face the residents knowing that the city was refusing to release the ward retention scheme.

Markham argued that residents had been paying for rates in his ward but the development projects they had suggested were being stalled because of failure by council to provide the retention money.


 

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