The Harare City Council is now owed more than $550 million in unpaid rates and bills by residents, Government departments and businesses, it has been learnt.
The local authority, however, hopes that the situation will improve as residents are now embracing the various bill payment platforms including the availability of cash through bond notes. Acting finance director, Mr Tendai Kwenda, attributed the situation to the prevailing economic challenges, which were affecting most residents.
According to the recent minutes of the Finance and Development Committee, Mr Kwenda reported on the various sector accounts and the position on council debtors and creditors variances.
“A total of $144,4 million was owed to Exim Bank of China of which $72,2 million had been committed and repayment would commence in 2017 and short, medium and long term amounting to $96,1 million owed by council,” reads the minutes.
During discussion the committee was advised that the situation was promising to improve as most residents and stakeholders were embracing the various bill payment platforms that were being introduced.
Revenue inflows, the committee was told, were now improving and assessments would be made next year. The committee also discussed contracting out some functions of the City Valuations and Estate Management section.
Mr Kwenda told councillors that the recommendation was a result of the section’s failure to cope with leases management tasks especially revenue collection as it was not equipped with the lease administration software.
He said the section had a severely depleted mobility and human capital resources as well as lack of legal structure to attend to litigation matters timeously.
“In view of the above shortcomings, the administration then felt it was in the best interest of council to contract out the above functions. During discussion acting town clerk (Mrs Josephine Ncube) advised the committee that the city was owed almost $30 million in leases therefore it was appropriate to lease out this function to established estates companies so as to recover the lease rental arrears as well as ensure timeous payment of all lease rentals.”
“She further advised that the estate companies would be engaged through tender and that assessment reports would be submitted to the committee,” reads the minutes.
Council approved the contracting out of some functions of the City Valuation and Estates Management in respect of all leases in the Central Business District.