The government is squarely to blame for the current water crisis in the country, especially the capital Harare which has been rocked by a typhoid outbreak, because it has stripped the councils of all their sources of revenue.
“Instead of supporting the democratically elected councils, the Minister and the Ministry of Local Government spend 90 per cent of their time trying to undermine the councils and to prevent them achieving the goals set for them by their electorates,” MDC-T Shadow Minister for Local Government Eddie Cross said today.
“Councils are hounded, subjected to arbitrary suspensions and their decisions rescinded at will. With totally inadequate resources and little support from Central Government it is no surprise that the Urban Councils are failing in their efforts to maintain water supplies and other services to the rapidly growing populations for which they are responsible.”
Cross said major sources of revenue that councils were stripped of included their thermal power stations, vehicle licence fees and water supplies.
“In the case of the City of Harare vehicle license fees used to be nearly US$10 million a year – ZINARA has sent less than US$1.2 million to the City this past year,” he said.
“In addition to this, the decision, for purely short term political reasons to cancel, at the stroke of a pen, over US$600 million in outstanding rates and taxes in 2013 by the then Minister Chombo has crippled the Urban Councils financially.
“With total revenues from all sources for all urban councils now running at about US$600 million a year, half of which is in Harare and urban council populations now exceeding 8 millions, gives the councils a annual spend of just US$75 per capita per annum.
“This is a totally inadequate sum to deal with the many urgent priorities. Councils receive no transfers from Central Government for their extensive Health and Education services, total transfers from ZINARA for road maintenance does not come anywhere near enough for road maintenance of the twenty thousand kilometers of urban roads.
“The new national Constitution provides for Central Government to distribute 5 per cent of Central Government revenues to local authorities – that is a sum of US$200 million a year. For three years now the ZANU- PF led Government, with the full support and collusion of the Ministry of Local Government, has failed to pay this sum – largely because the Councils are controlled by the MDC T.”
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