Blessings Chidakwa Municipal Correspondent
Harare City Council has announced a 14-fold increase in clinic and maternity fees, a move that is raising opposition as the charges will now vary directly with weekly changes in the exchange rate, with adults this week being charged $344 for a consultation and children $206.
City Parking, the council parking arm, has more than doubled its parking fees to $50 an hour.
The clinic fee increases, which came into effect yesterday, have seen maternity fees pushed up from $120 to the local currency equivalent of US$25, which is $1 720 at this week’s exchange rate.
Children consultation fees are now the equivalent of US$3 or $206,40 this week, up from $25, while adults now pay the equivalent of US$5, or $344 this week, up from $50.
Motorists will from Monday pay $50 per hour for parking in the city centre, up from $20 an hour.
In an interview yesterday, Harare spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme said the fees in local currency will vary weekly depending on the exchange rate.
“The decision was made to ensure the viability and sustainability of the health system which is currently rated the best in the country,” he said.
City Parking public relations manager Mr Francis Mandaza also said they settled for $50 after consultations with stakeholders.
“Following extensive consultations done by City of Harare and City Parking with the motoring public, we have rescinded our previous decision to charge US$1 per hour or the equivalent,” he said.
“The new parking tariff shall be $50 per hour while those who use our mobile app ‘Park Assist’, which is available on Google Playstore, shall pay a discounted amount of $45 per hour.”
Parkades and parking lots have lower rates.
Combined Harare Residents Association director Mrs Loreen Mupasiri-Sani last night said their concern was that council was pegging fees in US dollars when patients were paid in local currency.
“Apart from civil servants, the better part of council’s clients are from the informal sector and both are paid in local currency, there is no justification for the increase,” she said.
Mrs Mupasiri-Sani said it was always good for City Parking to engage stakeholders before hiking fees.
Speaking for the Zimbabwe National Organisation of Associations and Residents Trust, Mr Shepherd Chikomba said the increases on maternity fees was unacceptable especially coming from the city fathers whose duty and mandate is to cater for the ordinary resident.
“We are worried about this development. We are in the middle of crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and families are finding it very difficult to afford a single meal per day and they just hike fees without consulting residents,” he said.
“Government should intervene otherwise we are doomed. They have to account for the revenue they have been collecting all along and they have to justify how did they came up with those figures in US dollars.”
Mr Chikomba said the $50 was unacceptable since the city has not upgraded its parking facilities to levels that warrant them to charge that amount.