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Harare City Council tries to entice ratepayers with $200 ZWL airtime
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Harare City Council tries to entice ratepayers with $200 ZWL airtime

It’s not a secret, a lot of Harare residents have been defaulting on their rate payments. This in turn has led to depressed income resulting in the city failing to provide better service delivery, meaning even fewer residents are inclined to pay their rates resulting in a downward spiral in terms of quality of life in the city. In their bid to reverse this trend, Harare City Council has been engaging in various carrot and stick measures in a bid to induce more residents to pay their dues.

While it’s mostly the stick measures that get reported including the recently reviewed threat by the council that they would soon be converting all legacy rate debts into USD, there are some carrot measures worthy of applause or at the very least a chuckle. One such measure is the airtime reward promotion. The poster for the promotion is shown below.

While it is easy to scoff and laugh at such a promotion one has to look at things from the council’s point of view. As far as 2013 and earlier, Harare residents have owed the city council hundreds of millions of USD. Whenever things get tough, which they are bound to do in an economy such as ours, residents quickly default on their dues. This, in turn, means that the council is not able to pay wages for essential works such as street sweepers, plumbers etc. It also means that city council cannot provide essential services such as refuse collection. As already noted, when this happens more and more residents use the poor service delivery as a justification not to pay their dues as well as making an already bad situation worse.

The council has already tried stick measures such as threatening to convert legacy debt into USD in order to conserve value. They have also been sending final warnings and notices to defaulting ratepayers. Some ratepayers have even been issued with summons but it doesn’t seem like such measures have succeeded in convincing those defaulters to pay what they owe. The hope is that where threats have failed rewards such as free airtime might do the trick.

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