Yeukai Karengezeka and Blessings Chidakwa
Harare City Council has hiked fees for its housing waiting list by 500 percent from $60 to $300 with effect from August 1.
Council, which is battling to clear a 151 000 housing backlog, also announced an interview fee of $200 for allocation of a stand and an administration fees of $2 000 and $3 000 for medium and low-density stands, respectively.
Presenting a supplementary budget last week, Finance Committee chairperson councillor Luckson Mukunguma said the housing sector will receive an operating budget of $13,2 million.
“The fees to go on the waiting list are $60 per year and the proposal is to increase this to $150 per six months, interview for stand allocation will cost $200 while admin fees for medium density will be $2 000 and low density $3 000,” he said.
Harare Residents Trust official Mr Precious Shumba said council was clueless on how to modernise, industrialise and facilitate the ease of doing business.
“The important thing for them should be to provide justifications and explanations on why they have to change the tenure for the housing waiting list from 12 months to six months,” he said.
“The immediate answer is that this is merely a fundraising campaign to increase the city’s revenues at the expense of suffering residents. Council has found a way of exploiting the poor by charging high fees riding on the demand for stands.”
Mr Shumba said it was unfair for council to charge residents high fees to be on its waiting list when it was not servicing any land.
“What is the logic of making a resident who is seeking residential stands to pay in order to be interviewed?” he said.
“They must provide a service to the people, not use every available opportunity to charge huge amounts of money.
“It is this fundraising mentality that has destroyed service provision in Harare. Their housing officers should simply invite residents to sign allocation forms when the serviced land is available.
“Admin fees are not accounted for and there is no transparency on how these funds are used or have been used in the past. Sadly, there is too much opportunity for money making through housing.”
Harare is targeting to clear the 151 000 people on its housing waiting list by 2030.