Harare residents have pleaded with the Harare City Council to extend the window period of selling council rented houses whose current tenants do not have immediate alternatives.
In a petition to the city council, Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) noted that the 2013 Council resolution to sell council rented houses to sitting tenants was not implemented in the five years period as agreed upon, as the council took only two (2) years to value the houses and the resolution came into effect in 2015.
“The much debt on Council rented properties is a result of ‘illegal penalties’ as tenants have erected houses to accommodate their growing families. The illegal penalties are amounting to $120 RTGS per month. These penalties are contributing the large chunk to the debt tenants owe the Council,” reads the petition.
It is also noted that the Council requirement to sell the houses to tenants that have no “debts” was not possible considering the “illegal penalty charges” contribution to the money owed to the City by tenants hence in Dzivarasekwa only 27 houses out of 1278 houses were sold to sitting tenants.
The other complaint was there was a lack of awareness on the intention to sell Council rented houses to sitting tenants.
“The debts which are on our bills are questionable; tenants are being charged with water consumption when they have not received water for the past 10 years. This has also increased our bills which make it difficult for tenants to purchase the houses.
“The billing system for Harare City Council has not been encouraging people to pay their debts. Residents have been paying and nothing has been deducted on their bills especially those paying with Eco cash, no receipts have been issued,” reads the other part of the petition.
Section 28 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe guarantees the right to shelter and that the city council have the mandate and power to make reasonable policy interventions and other measures to enable every person to have access to adequate shelter and secure tenure.
However, the council was encouraged to move the sell of council rented houses to sitting tenants to 2025 and remove all “illegal” penalty charges for “illegal structures” in line with the 2017 resolution as well as fixing the current opaque and chaotic billing system and Issue receipts to those paying with eco-cash.