By Martin Mawaya
Despite pressure and lobbying from the residents to reduce high tariffs, City of Gweru has refused to stagger the approved 2021 budget.
Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association (GRRA), on March 9, 2021 wrote to council requesting the local authority to consider reducing the approved tariffs which residents felt were to high considering the stabilizing of the local currency on the official exchange rate.
Acting Town Clerk, Vakayi Chikwekwe wrote back to the residents on Tuesday saying, “reference is made to your letter to His worship the Mayor Councillor J. Makombe dated 9th of March 2021. The matter was deliberated and your request was regrettably not acceded to by council”.
In an interview, GRRA Executive Director Cornelius Selipiwe said council’s decision to turn down residents demands for a reduction in rates is a betrayal of voters.
“It’s unfortunate that residents voted for these councillors and now residents are regretting ever voting for these people into power, because the moment they got into office they completely forget about the electorate.
“The electorate are suffering in terms of disposable income but councillors are continuing hiking tariffs,” he said.
He said residents were now going to take action.
“As residents we have two options. The first one is to demonstrate and the second one is to encourage residents to boycott the payments.
“We are also going to seek the attention of the Minister Local Government and make sure that he is aware of the challenges residents are facing,” said Selipiwe.
He added that council was fighting with the Minister of Finance.
“What this council is doing is a direct fight with the Minister of finance, because the Minister is proclaiming that the economy is stabilizing but the local authorities are inflating bills,” fumed Selipiwe.
Selipiwe highlighted that the residents has proposed the two phased staggering.
“We have written to the city fathers highlighting the challenges we are facing as residents.
“We proposed a staggering of the 2021 approved budget in two phases. At first quarter, we proposed to council to implement 50% of the approved budget and in June 100% so as to lessen the burden for residents as we are coming out from the Covid-19 lockdown,” he explained.
Meanwhile the City of Gweru Public Relations and Communications Officer Vimbai Chingwaramusee said they cannot approve the proposal coming from the residents.
“Unfortunately as the local authority we can not approve that proposal coming from some residents that they want the bills to be slashed.
“We need revenue and that revenue comes from the residents and our stakeholders,” she said.