The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) says the proposed rates hike is likely to take effect in the next three months, as the local authority is currently finalising on the supplementary budget.
BCC recently conducted consultative meetings with various stakeholders in the city where they tabled a proposed ZWL$263 million supplementary budget claiming its 2019 budget of ZWL$212 million had been ravaged by inflation.
Despite objections from residents, the local authority said it was going ahead with the proposed 56% rates hike.
In an interview with CITE, the mayor said the supplementary budget has not yet been passed as there are committees that need to evaluate the budget before it is approved.
“We are looking at about 2 to 3 months for it to be implemented. This will only be done when it has been passed and approved by the minister of local government,” said the mayor.
In response to calls by residents for the city to find other revenue streams to lessen the burden on residents, the mayor said the council is open to discussing alternative funding schemes.
The Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) recently suggested that BCC should repossess the Bulawayo Thermal Power Station and also re-engage the Zimbabwe National Water Authority over the Nyamandlovu Aquifer.
“We are open to any suggestions, but people should know that these revenue schemes cannot be done overnight,” said the mayor.
He said the suggestions have legal implications and a strong budget that the local authority cannot provide at the moment to repossess the Bulawayo Thermal Power Station.
“According to the Electricity Act, ZESA is the sole generator and distributor of electricity in the country, it was given that mandate which we do not have,” said the mayor.
“There is also need for a lot of capital for an intensive project like this one and it can succeed through partnerships with the private sector.”
He added: “Underground water belongs to the government according to the Water Act; we cannot own what is not ours.”