Upenyu Chaota

MASVINGO- Emotions are boiling and tampers are flaring after the City of Masvingo increased rates by over 500 percent against objections from residents with Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Ezra Chadzamira joining the campaign slamming the city fathers for being unreasonable and insensitive.

Addressing a Zanu PF Masvingo Provincial Coordinating Committee (PCC) meeting today (March 20), Chadzamira said there was no justification whatsoever for the city council to increase rates against the background of poor service delivery and residents’ poor earnings.

Chadzamira said councils should make sure that they engage residents before making reviews which have an impact on their livelihoods.

“Our urban and rural local authorities should sit down with the residents whenever they want to increase rates. They must see whether the services they are offering justify the increments.

“They must see whether increasing rates by 600 percent or 800 percent margins are fair to residents. Let us consider the earnings of our people. The money that is being charged by council is way beyond the earnings of residents.

“Someone earns $2 000 per month for his family and the council comes and charge $8 000 or $9 000 to the same person. Where do they expect the money to come from?

“As much as we want our councils to grow, we also need to look at the other side of citizens, are they able to pay and are you able to deliver the services,” said Chadzamira.

He said the city council must reduce rates in consultation with residents and not hide behind the notion that the budget had already been approved.

“Coordination is very important and we should sit down with residents and make sure that they have an input on the budget. We should agree before increasing rates.

“I understand there is an outcry over exorbitant rates and dialogue is the only way out. Councils should engage residents to come up with fair and affordable rates.

“It does not matter whether the budget was approved by the ministry of local government, revising the rates downwards is not an issue. Rates must be revised downwards through engagement with residents. This does not need anyone from Harare but we can do it here on our own,” said Chadzamira.

To register their anger and discontent, disgruntled residents went on a spree spraying graffiti in the Central Business District (CBD) on Friday calling on rates to fall.

City of Masvingo has justified the increments saying they are reasonable and would facilitate effective service delivery.

A feedback meeting to residents attended strictly by invitation amounted to nothing on Friday after residents rejected all the council’s justifications.