MDC Alliance Member of Parliament for Harare North Rusty Markham has vowed not to pay Harare City Council rates until the municipal authority finds a way to recoup billions of Zimbabwe dollars it is owed by ratepayers.
Harare City Council says service delivery in Harare has been compromised by non-payment of municipal bills now amounting to over $5,5 billion.
The debtors include residents, business and Government.
“I have paid my rates up to the end of January, I have no intention of paying my rates again until they make a determined effort to collect the $5.5 billion outstanding. I can tell you now, the rest of the residents in the Northern suburbs are going to do the same as this continues,” Markham told the National Assembly on Thursday.
“…I am not paying them one mete more.”
Markham said it was disheartening that, in 20 years Hatcliffe have not had one metre of tar put in and they have no water.”
“These times when it rains people walk barefoot to work so that they can clean their feet and get in the buses. This is unacceptable Mr. Speaker Sir,” Markham said.
“My issue is very simple, we are now in a serious situation where we have been shut down for a year but nothing has happened. By the admission at the City of Harare at the end of November last year, $5.5 billion was uncollected in rates and they have done nothing,” he continued.
“I have seen nothing to make an effort to collect the $5.5. billion yet in the budget which has been sanctioned and in my case – my rates have gone up 400% from $800 to over $3000. That is the same for all our residents, whether they are in high density or in low density throughout the whole of City of Harare. Why should I pay more money when they are not collecting the debts? They have admitted that 32% of people are paying rates, the rest are not,” he added.
“The question is why should I continue paying rates, why should I continue paying my rates when the guy next door is not paying his rates, and yet City of Harare – and I would like to include Local Government here because Local Government should be forcing them to collect the rates. It is no use putting mine up 400% so I pay because more people will drop out.”
Markham said it was discouraging to hear that in City of Harare over 100 nurses have resigned “and no one is bothered about that.”
“In the Northern suburbs we have got 4 clinics closed except for Thursday afternoon, but no one is bothered about it. It shocked us when it comes to the workers of the Council – only up to grade 12 have been paid this year. Anyone with a grade higher than 12 has not been paid this year, the last payment was in December,” he said.