Mutare residents denounce rates increases

Mutare residents reject rates increases

MUTARE – Residents living in the low density areas of the Eastern border town have denounced plans by Mutare City Council (MCC) to increase rates and service charges.

Council has proposed to increase rates. The residents also argue that the differences in amounts between low density rates charges against the high density were ‘unrealistic’.

In a consultative meeting organized by the United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust (UMRRT) in the city on Tuesday, residents from low density suburbs resolved to petition the local authority over the new proposed rates in the 2021 budget, which they said were unjustified and beyond the reach of many.

The concerned residents are from Palmerstone, Darlington, Murambi,
Greenside, Morningside, Boardervalle, Tigers Kloof and the Avenues
area among others.

The anxious residents set up a five member committee chaired by Andrew Went that will meet the council management to discuss the way forward with regards to agreeing on feasible rates.

Mutare City Council finance director Blessing Chafesuka said they are
proposing a US$33 million 2021 budget to meet service delivery
challenges.

This is a massive upsurge from the 2019 budget of RTGS31.1 million.

“The rates and services charges come in the backdrop of the hyperinflationary environment in the country. The biggest let down is
when tendering for services and equipment, the intentions are of
getting cost effective pricing,” Chafesuka said.

Former Mutare Mayor Brian James said the council’s proposal was without notification.

“This budget had no any notification and wide consultations. We want
to know whether the decision was from the full council resolution or
it is a proposal from the council’s finance department,” said James.
He said the council bills had many inconsistencies.

“What criterion was being used to come up with those figures? There is
a reflection of various inconsistencies in the format and charges in
the budget in fact we are going to petition our council over the
charges,” lamented James.

Another resident Tim Guild said they were concerned with the rates and charges, which he said were beyond the reach of many including small business.

“We need budget that is real. Small businesses will not continue
operating because the rates are just too much. This does not make
sense at all. How can one get a bill that is US$560? Honestly, we
cannot pay such huge sums. We need proper this at council,” he said.

“We also want an audit of how the council money is being spent. We
have poor service delivery. No street lights, poor refuse collection
and continuous water pipe bursts among other things,” said Guild.

Moses Mutero said the local authority should create other avenues to
raise money instead of burdening residents.

“‘We sometimes think this is a fundraising plot by the council. These
rates are beyond the reach of some of us. This is a non-starter and
there is need for more consultation and discussions regarding thse
high rates,” he said.

The UMRRT Programmes Director said the council should have made wide consultations.

“The local authority must widely consult to bring everyone on the same
level. We have some Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that were left
out,” said Dube.

In the budget proposal, sewage and water tariffs for residential areas
remain the same as effected in March, but all commercial and
industrial sewage and water tariffs as well as miscellaneous tariffs
were increased ranging from 120 to 350 percent.

All commercial and industrial tariffs increased by 350 percent with
sewage for commercial properties going up from $54 to $243, while
water charges range, but the fixed charges went up from $427 to $1923.

Parking discs have gone up by 300 percent, from $10 to $40.
Health fees will increase by 150 percent, an increment which will see
children consultation fees at $75 from $30 and adults paying $112 from $45.

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