BCC urged to revise rate rebate scheme

Bulawayo residents have lobbied the local authority to revise its senior citizen rates rebate scheme age limit from the current 70 years to at least 60 years as most pensioners were struggling to pay rates.

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is proposing a 216 percent projected average tariff increase for 2022.

In 2009, council passed a resolution that senior citizens aged 70 years and above would be eligible for a 50 percent rate rebate.

Speaking during the virtual budget consultation meetings, some senior citizens urged the local authority to revise down the age limit to at least 60 years.

Residents said although people were classified as the elderly at 65 years when one reached 60, they should be suitable to receive a tax cut in light of the increasing rates.

The elderly as defined in Section 82 of the Zimbabwe Constitution are people who are over the age of 70 years while internationally, the age is set at over 60.

“Please reconsider rates payment for all pensioners. Why does council exempt those who are 70 yet most elders do not get to that age due to stress caused by your ever-rising rates,” residents said during a budget consultation meeting for Ward 2 held on WhatsApp Thursday where residents said pensioners must not wait to be 70 years to be eligible for rebates.

“You can not peg the age at 70 plus to get a rebate. Your age limit is not in conformity to your own pensionable or council retirement policy, the norm should be 60 to 65 years.”

Participants noted the local authority should appreciate that most elderly people in the city were facing economic hardships.

“Don’t wait for the citizens to die first. This shows that the council has been inhumane in this regard, with total disregard to pensioners contributions over the years,” said the residents.

“On tariff increases, let’s consider that we have many elderly people living on meagre pensions. We would love to contribute to the development of our Bulawayo but may we be considered as well.”

Residents highlighted that the proposed budgetary hike would put a strain on families, as they were already struggling from economic hardships.

Throughout the discussion, residents noted that BCC’s service delivery standards were dropping, which did not motivate people to appreciate a tariff hike.

“Service delivery needs serious panel beating. I would particularly refer to the health sector. The last thing we need is the sour attitudes we have to bear with when seeking medical assistance from clinics and hospitals. You would swear nurses are employed according to how mean they are,” said one resident.

“I will not mince my words, nurses need to improve on their service delivery, they are being paid to assist us. If it’s not enough they are free to remain unemployed like the rest of us. We can’t normalise such behaviour, it makes them think they are doing us a favour. The Minister (of Health and Child Care) and his office should do random visits to these sites please.”

The residents also encouraged BCC to implement their by-laws in order to make Bulawayo a “happy place to live in.”

“There is now a tendency that BCC staff side with those who break the laws for example on health issues and stray dogs. We pay rates in anticipation of delivery services which can be done effectively to cut down on costs but some employees want to be corrupt and inhumane to the residents. Wastage of resources is created by these few in the system who are corrupt,” participants claimed.

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