THE water crisis in capital Harare is presumed to worsen as the Local Government ministry has rejected a budget proposal by the city fathers, claiming it was not realistic.
Speaking to Zim Morning Post, Harare City Council (HCC) mayor Herbet Gomba said: “We are getting approximately ZWL8 million from revenue collection, yet we need ZWL35 million every month to process and serve residents with safe water, so we have to increase our current rates.”
The city council had proposed to hike the current rates to ZWL3.50 from ZWL0.80, with housing rates set to move to ZWL50 and ZWL25 for retail rentals.
Gomba said by turning down the budget, HCC will find it difficult to solve the water crisis but will continue to engage the ministry.
“The interbank rate is changing every day and we buy our chemicals using foreign currency. If they stop us from increasing the rates, how do they expect us to meet our services delivery obligations,” Gomba added.
The mayor also said by blocking their budget proposal, the ministry was frustrating their resolve to deal with Harare water crisis.
The city fathers blame the skyrocketing interbank rate for their failure to perform effectively.
Besides the water crisis, HCC is also facing a huge burden in refuse collection and the servicing of dilapidated roads infrastructure.
In a letter seen by this publication, the ministry stated that the budget was unrealistic and did not address recommendations made in the 2019 Auditor-General’s report.
Turning to their reasons for refusing to let the budget pass, the ministry said: “Looking at the previous performance, the budget is by all means totally unrealistic.
“The dividends for council companies have not been incorporated, Council is borrowing for consumptive expenditure. This is not ideal and is unsustainable.
“Audit observations have not been dealt with. There are no real strategies to deal with arrears for both income and expenditure.
“There is no real strategy to deal employment costs. Council has been advised numerous times to downsize in view of the unsustainable employment costs but has not taken heed.
“The cost build ups are flawed. Donations were not fully declared,”the ministry said in a statement.