Zimbabwe: More hardships for Harare residents

By Tsungai Murandu

HARARE - Harare residents will have to dig deeper into their pockets in coming months to survive hefty increases in rates and other charges proposed by the city fathers.

Residents of the Zimbabwean capital must brace for more hardships starting from July following rates and charges increases of up to 5 000 percent.

According to new charges published by the Harare City Council yesterday, monthly rentals payable by landlords to the city fathers would range from 340 000 to more than Z$8 million per property.

Some landlords in the poor working class suburb of Dzivaresekwa would with effect from July 1 fork out $8.6 million a month for their houses. They are presently paying $172 000 for the same properties - an increase of 4 900 percent.

Residents staying in the overcrowded Matapi and Nenyere flats in the sprawling Mbare suburb would have to part with $655 000 and $705 000 a month, respectively. The current rentals are $13 100 and $14 100 a month, respectively.

Clinic and hospital fees also go up by 376 and 167 percent, respectively. It would now cost $20 000 for an adult to get treatment at council clinics and $10 000 for children. They currently pay $4 200 and $2 100, respectively.

Residents would have to fork out $100 000 for treatment at council hospitals such as the Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospital.

Burial fees in the A section of the Granville cemetery rise from $100 000 to $700 000 for an adult and to $350 000 from $50 000 for a child. It would now cost $150 000 to inter an adult in the B section of the same cemetery.

Burial of a body at the Warren Hills cemetery would now attract a charge of $5 million for an adult, up more than 1 500 percent from the current $300 000.

The hike in the council charges is expected to worsen the plight of long-suffering Harare residents, who also have to contend with shortages of food electricity and just about every basic survival commodity.

It particularly spells disaster for those without their own houses who would have to brace for another round of rental increases.

A room currently costs around $600 000 a month while the average salary for most Zimbabweans is about $1 million.

The Harare City Council rate hike reflects the hyper-inflationary conditions prevailing in Zimbabwe where inflation is estimated at around 4 530 percent for May.