Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Harare City Council’s revenue has plummeted from $22 million in October to $12,5 million this month, despite introducing a promotion where it offered residents a 50 percent discount on every payment.
The promotion ends on Friday and residents have pleaded with council to once again extend the reprieve to December 31.
Government, businesses and residents owe the local authority about $800 million. Council hoped that the promotion would rescue Harare from a financial crisis which has seen it failing to pay salaries and provide basic services such as refuse collection.
Harare raked in $17 million for the month of September from ratepayers, a record which had not been achieved for the past four years.
The figure increased to $22 million in October, but residents have since then only paid $12,5 million, with the discount offer set to expire today.
City’s corporate communications manager Mr Michael Chideme yesterday urged residents to take advantage of the last day (today) to clear their debts. Prior to council introducing the promotion in July, Harare was collecting between $10 million and $12 million from potential monthly collections of $22 million.
“So far this month we have collected $12,5 million against the $22 million we collected last month,” said Mr Chideme.
The Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT) pleaded with the Harare City Council to extend the discount window.
“It is proving to be a simpler method to collect revenue and HRT believes the resident has taken advantage of this window period to clear debt burden,” said HRT.
“The HRT also urge the city council to fulfil its mandate to improve the service provision to the citizen since they have been paying for these services in the last five months.”
The city says service delivery will improve if it manages to collect $400 million from what it is owed, rather than continuing to say it is owed about $800 million which it will never be able to recover.
When Harare introduced a similar facility in 2016, it brought in about $85 million.
The city has since notified residents that it will engage debt collectors after the promotion ends.