THE commission running the affairs of Harare city council has shelved presentation of the 2005 budget fearing that astronomical increases in rates and service charges could derail Zanu PF
217;s chances in the month-end election.
The Sekesai Makwavarara- chaired commission this week indefinitely postponed the budget, a move residents’ representatives described as a political masterstroke to tilt the vote in favour of the ruling Zanu PF.
“The budget was ready for presentation over a month ago but the commission has postponed it a record five times,” residents’ representatives said.
“We are convinced that this is for election purposes. Government realises that implementing the sharp increases proposed in the budget could cost Zanu PF heavily in the March 31 election.”
The commission is seeking approval for a $1,4 trillion budget it crafted without consulting Harare stakeholders.
If the budget is adopted, council rates will shoot by between 300 and 600% in direct contrast to Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono’s directive that local authorities and parastatals should not raise charges by more than 70%.
The commission did not give reasons for the postponement of the budget.
City treasury officials this week said the postponement had thrown the council’s already outstretched finances into disarray.
“Harare is collecting around $30 billion against an expenditure of $45 billion,” officials said. “Any further delays in effecting this year’s budget will ground council operations.”
Harare has been struggling to pay its workers over the past six months. It has been declared bankrupt on three occasions over the same period.