[Before reading see important updates at the bottom of the article]

So earlier this week there was a message doing rounds on social media(particularly WhatsApp) saying that City Parking, the company engaged by Harare City Council to administer parking spaces in Harare CBD would soon be charging motorists about $600 ZWL per hour. Harare City council came out guns blazing with a statement that said that this was not true essentially calling the rumour fake news. Turns out it’s the City Council that was lying as City Parking will indeed soon be charging $600 ZWL for parking in the CBD if all goes well.

As it turns out the news doing rounds on social media was not a baseless fabrication as the city fathers wanted us to believe. The figure was based on Harare City Council’s own 2022 budget figures. The new budget has now been adopted and the short story of it is that Harare residents are in for a world of hurt finance wise. Among the choice points of pain in the new $41.8 billion budget are the following items:

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  • Motorists will now be expected to pay a minimum fine of US$100 when their vehicle is clamped and US$50 for “storage.” Don’t expect to see a spike in city revenue as a result of this fine. This simply just means municipal police have more room to engage in the usual corruption where they extort bribes form clamped car owners
  • While the parking fees are $120 ZWL, soon motorists will be required to pay $600 ZWL the very same figure the city council denied this week.

City council claims they used the official rate

According to the Harare City Council, they used the official auction rate to come up with these figures.

We have made our budget basing on the interbank rate. Adjustments have been made, for example 87 percent on some rates.

Michael Chideme who is council spokesperson commenting on the new figures

Either Mr Chideme is bad at Maths or he is simply lying. An increase from 120 to 600 is a 400% increase and not an 85% increase as he is claiming. i would choose to believe he is willfully lying. The council, just like everyone in Zimbabwe, probably used the black market rates in coming up with their new budget, they didn’t only do that but also went above and beyond the black market rates in a bid to cushion themselves against anticipated rate fluctuations as budgets are normally an annual affair.

We can prove it too. Generally during the GNU and stable eras in the bygone decade City Parking would charge between US$0.50 to US$1.00 per hour for parking in Harare CBD. Now they are charging almost US$3.00 in their new budget when using the current black market rates. That figure goes up to over US$5.00 when we use the current official rate of around $118 ZWL. Charging 3 or 5 bucks per hour in the CBD for parking is shocking and insane! It gets worse when you consider that we are in the midst of a pandemic that shows no signs of abetting and has eroded both business and individual incomes.

At these eye-gouging prices, you would expect better service delivery from our city. You that they would provide things like regular and predictable refuse collection service. That leaking (more like gushing) water pipes would be regularly attended to and all suburbs would get piped water. Those with such hopes are likely to be disappointed as experience has shown that even at the peak of revenue collection city fathers would often opt to award themselves super generous remuneration packages with some earning as much as US$45 000 per month in salary while the average teacher earned US$450 in 2013.

Updated

City Parking has reaffirmed their vehement denial that they are not charging $600 ZWL per hour yet. They are still charging $120 ZWL per hour. Confusingly a Harare City council official has said only fines were increased by the steep 300-400% suggesting everything else was not going to change. It’s now very difficult to ascertain what is the truth is such a forest of confusing remarks. We will keep this article up for now. In the meantime, we haven’t changed the current parking fees that Harare City is charging. To see these please click on the button below.