Thursday, September 23, 2021
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Chiredzi residents protest 150 percent rate hike

Chiredzi

…say
lockdown has rendered many people destitute

Beatific Gumbwanda

Chiredzi residents have
complained that the 150 percent rate hike approved by council was insensitive
to people’s worsening earning capacity caused by the national lockdown which
has since been extended indefinitely.
The Ministry of Local Government
last month approved Chiredzi Town Council $54 million budget for the 2020 financial
year.
The budget relies on residents
paying 150 percent more than they had been paying before for water, refuse
collection and other council services.
At many ward-based coronavirus
awareness campaigns being undertaken by the United Chiredzi Residents and
Ratepayers Association (UCHIRRA), people complained that the new charges
appearing on their May bills were exorbitant.
At one of the meetings, Ward 6
Councillor Musingashari Musingashari faced furious residents who said they were
disappointed that council had made adjustments to the billing structure apparently
with little regard to the economic impact of the lockdown on livelihoods.
“We are surprised that as
council, you decided to increase rates yet we are in national lockdown which
means many people are at home earning nothing. What is the logic of increasing
rates on residents who are facing an unprecedented erosion of their
livelihoods?” asked on female resident.
Another resident said the new
rate structure was not justifiable as council had not improved service delivery
despite similar hikes in the past.
“This has no justification
because service delivery remains poor especially with regards to the provision
of safe drinking water. Many residents seldom receive council water yet it is
an essential service in efforts to improve hygiene and fight the spread of
coronavirus,” he said.
In response, Musingashari said he
acknowledged residents’ concerns but added that council had no options as
inflation was eroding capacity to deliver services using the old rate
structure.
“I am very much aware of your
concerns as residents but the hyperinflationary environment spares not even our
town council. We need to pay salaries and pay our electricity bills which are
not even affordable to us,” said Musingashari.
He said council also needed to
pay sugar company Tongaat Hulett which helps the local authority to purify its
water.

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