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Gweru residents reject rates hike

by Staff reporter
26 Apr 2019 at 07:21hrs | Views
Gweru residents have rejected moves by the city council to increase rates to align them with the prevailing bank rates.

This follows a recent announcement by mayor Josiah Makombe that the council could no longer afford to retain the prevailing rates on water, refuse and sewage since the devaluing of the bond notes currency by over 250%.

However, in an interview with Southern Eye, Gweru Residents Forum director Charles Mazorodze said council was not a profit-making organisation and should seek strategies that can enhance its revenue base, instead of raising rates.

"There is need for the councillors to undertake citywide consultations and assessments by way of talking to residents about the intended supplementary budget. The residents at the moment are failing to pay the current rates, and so it's unlikely they will afford higher charges," he said.

"There is need to strike a balance between operational demands of council in providing services and the economic capacities of the communities which are supposed to be receiving services. Councils are not profit-making organisations and as such, they must operate on a cost-recovery basis, having the poor and marginalised communities at heart."

The GRF leader urged council to look for supplementary income elsewhere and embark on profitable projects other than burdening the already struggling residents.

But Makombe stuck to his guns, saying for the local authority to remain afloat and continue providing services, there was an urgent need to start charging service charges and rates using the prevailing bank rate.

"Right now, for example, we are charging around 80c per kilolitre, an amount that is far less than a 500ml bottle of water that is being sold for about $1.50," he said.

Government has already approved the $45 million 2019 budget for Gweru City Council and any supplementary financial plan would also have to get a nod from President Emmerson Mnangagwa's administration.

Source - newsday

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