Civic Society pressure group, Transparency International today staged a campaign against the bribery of Harare City Council officials on duty when they come for water disconnections. Instead, the pressure group, encouraged the residents in debts to approach local authority to negotiate for payment plans.
The call comes after a public outcry over alleged extortion by council officials who ask for bribes in order to spare residents from disconnecting them of water supply.
In an interview with 263Chat on the sidelines of the campaign held at Harare Gardens, Transparency International executive director, Muchaneta Mundopa said they embarked on this initiative upon realization that residents were getting a raw deal from bribing council officials as this would not settle their debts.
“When conducting our community meetings, we noticed that residents are bribing council officials when they come to disconnect water supply. So we realized it’s better to advice residents that bribery won’t solve matters but instead we encourage them to engage the city council and negotiate for a payment plan. So this campaign is dubbed, I Will Pay, I Will Not Bride,” said Mundopa.
Harare City is owed $750 million by residents and companies in unpaid bills and there are concerns that it will never recover this money in its actual value following the monetary policy changes which took place earlier in the year where balances were eroded by the floating of the currency, deviating from the 1:1 policy between USD and the RTGS dollars.
This has rendered the council ineffective in carrying out its duties in the city such as providing constant supply of clean water, refuse collection and road rehabilitation among other duties.
“We are aware this affects both the council and the residents in a negative way. We continue to carry our campaign to different cities like Bulawayo and Mutare,” added Mundopa.
However Harare City’ spokesperson Mike Chideme said bribery of the city officials doesn’t only deprive the local authority of revenue for service delivery but is also a criminal offence that must be reported to the police.
“We advise residents not to indulge into bribery of council officials. If this happens we strongly urge residents to report such acts of criminality to the police,” said Chideme.
Council is currently engaging residents of Harare to settle their bills.