RETHINKING URBAN TAXATION IN HARARE, ZIMBABWE: CASE IN MUNICIPAL GOVERNANCE AND LEADERSHIP - Polish Journal of Management Studies

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RETHINKING URBAN TAXATION IN HARARE, ZIMBABWE: CASE IN MUNICIPAL GOVERNANCE AND LEADERSHIP

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RETHINKING URBAN TAXATION IN HARARE, ZIMBABWE: CASE IN MUNICIPAL GOVERNANCE AND LEADERSHIP
Chirisa I.

Abstract: Zimbabwes urban systems are bleeding as explained by the many years of economic instability with Harare being the worst affected city given its primacy. Yet, little effort, if any, has been invested in trying to understand to the extent to which the colonially-set cross-subsidisation systems are still intact in terms of property rating and taxation. This present study examines the leadership role Harare has for setting pace for other cities of which this is a possibility if taxation systems are re-examined, if dead, rejuvenated for sustainable futures. Unless, the leakages are managed, the urban fabric will in the long-run, lead to serious challenges in terms of service delivery in the light of urban fiscal policy. Noted in the study are the discrepancies in charging and billing according to income grouping, activities individuals and private corporate entities use. Drawing from narratives from key urban management stakeholders (council officials and other relevant stakeholders), the study, presents these observations. The paper proposes a governance framework in which stakeholder interact to find working solutions to finance city growth through an effective taxation policy.

Key words: cross-subsidy, colonialism, cityscape, poverty, billing, property tax, governance
.

Introduction

Urban development in Africa is paradoxical. Cities are not for free hence taxation on land or an improvement on land (betterment) is way of raising finance to pay for the services and infrastructure in urban centers[1]. High rates of corruption in land markets which characterize most African cities mean that the cities are robbed of treasures that must accrue to them, especially to finance infrastructure and services. There is evidence that ratepayers are evading due payments in many Zimbabwean cities. This links what he calls
free riding[2]. This is implied in the following news headings: Zesa: Time to implement pre-paid meter policy,[3] Ministers bleed ZINWA,[4] and Thousands face blackout [5]. This present paper argues, using the case of Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, that citizen apathy to actively pay for municipal services, governments reluctance to demonstrate leadership in this aspect, and general ignorance of the fiscal nuances of the bad practice over time, are perpetrated by parasitism and corruption that is rooted in bad stewardship by the key actors in the urban centre. Urbanization of poverty is increasing by day hence a requiem of socio-economic injustice. Harare, though a urban primacy, has a major role to lead and strive to be a paragon to which other smaller settlements must learn good governance practice. The notion of governance is traced to Edward Barnfield and James Wilson (1963), Fainstein and Fainstein (1983) and Elkin (1987). These are usually regarded as the leading scholars on the topic. The origin of urban governance is traced the United Nations which took over the concept from the World Banks Urban Management Programme. Most world cities thrive by cross-subsidization so that there is some equilibration across social groups and areas [6]. Of late in most developing countries, Zimbabwe included, the obsession by other so-called important businesses of the cities has seen the neglect of studies of the city dynamics in terms of fiscal policy measures that make cities work. This downplay of the taxation factor has seen hordes of citizens wanting to live luxurious lives yet neglecting the important fiscal and taxation matters [7]. Municipal budgets go half-funded [8]. Sometimes there are grossly unexplained discrepancies in the system of billing and payment. Municipalities tend to put high priority on satisfying the human resources with heft salaries at the expense of service delivery [9]. As a result, some vicious cycle of poverty persists between the authorities and the households. Sometimes the central government, being the chief space taker of the lettable urban space goes without paying the due property tax in the name of patronage or in ability to clear its domestic debt [10].

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Conclusion and Policy Direction

Indeed Zimbabwe
s urban systems are bleeding. Harare is the core of the land taxation and related challenges.  Unless, the leakages are managed, the urban fabric will, in the long-run, lead to serious challenges in terms of service delivery in the light of urban fiscal policy. Noted in the study are the discrepancies in charging and billing according to income grouping and activities individuals and private corporate entities use.  A governance framework in which stakeholders in the city understand that “city living is not for free”, anchored in the contemporary rights-based development framework, is proposed. This framework provides a new space of operation to grassroots organizations in the city space, particularly the residents associations and trusts. The engine for sustainability, growth and place stewardship lies in the innovative practices. Harare as the capital city should take leadership in this direction. These determine performance by the actors. It must be further underscored that stewardship for any delivery, housing included, is a defined ethic requiring actors to account and act in transparency for performance enhancement. Actors feel obliged to deliver if they are in ownership of a vision, plan or action set before them. Yet the actors are dispersed across a wide arena, horizontally and vertically. The micro-level actors are better anchored if they are maximising on social capital - networks and social ties[59]. A good governance model when effectively implemented will see reduction in urban poverty[60], as dividends of paying allows for trickle down effects and spinoffs. It is high time for local authorities to explore other sources of finance and wean themselves from acquiring funds from the central government and taxation more so cities should engage/ form partnerships with the private sector in the form of non-governmental organizations.


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ZMIANA W PODATKU MIEJSKIM W HARARE (ZIMBABWE)
STUDIUM PRZYPADKU PRZEWODZENIE I ZARZĄDZANIE KOMUNALNE

Streszczenie: Miejskie systemy Zimbabwe „krwawią” spowodowane wieloletnią niestabilnością gospodarczą, Harare jest najbardziej dotkniętym tą niestabilnością miastem, z uwagi na jego znaczenie. Jednakże niewiele wysiłku, jeżeli w ogóle, włożono w próbę zrozumienia zasięgu, w jakim wzajemnie, nadal, pozostają subsydiowane systemy kolonialne, w warunkach szacowania wartości nieruchomości i podatków. Prezentowany artykuł analizuję rolę lidera, jaką przyjmuje Harare w celu ustalenia tempa dla pozostałych miast, w których występuje możliwość ponownego zbadania systemów podatkowych, a gdy nie istnieją takie systemy, ponowne ich określenie w celu przyszłego zrównoważonego rozwoju.

Słowa kluczowe: subsydia krzyżowe, kolonializm, miasta, bieda, bilingi, podatek od nieruchomościu, zarządzanie

 
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