Bulawayo councillors affiliated with the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party have implored the local authority not to increase tariffs in the 2023 budget in order to provide relief to residents and the business community.
The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) will host budget consultative sessions in all 29 wards beginning this Friday.
Given this backdrop, CCC declaring its position as a “pro-poor party” is opposed to any tariff increase.
The CCC councillors also encouraged BCC to “think outside the box” and focus on making its business units successful rather than just collecting rates from residents.
“We are very much on the side of the citizens and business community; hence our position is not to continue burdening them with increasing rates and tariffs as means to meet the budget in this volatile operating environment worsened by inconsistent policies from the central government and low disposable incomes,” said Ward 24 councillor Arnold Batirai at a press conference held Wednesday in Bulawayo.
Batirai said as councillors they were aware the Bulawayo business community needs to be incentivised.
“By maintaining the same tariffs, we make them realise that we have them in our minds at all times and we wish them well as we develop our city. We urge the business community and innovators with cutting-edge technology from other cities around Zimbabwe and outside Zimbabwe to take advantage of our initiatives in the city which are bent on creating a stable business environment to come on board and invest in Bulawayo.”
Ward 26 councillor Mpumelelo Moyo explained their responsibility was to protect citizens by advocating for improved performance of BCC investment vehicles such as Ingwebu Breweries and City Council farms, among others.
“We are not stifling any council business but advocating as CCC councillors for effectiveness in the way we do run our businesses – Ingwebu Breweries and council farms. Incomes from those facilities should cushion rate payers. Our council subsidiaries must be run effectively,” he said.
“We don’t want rates to be increased but remain as they are so that we incentivise business and not burden ratepayers. If you check, Bulawayo hasn’t been attracting investors because of so many challenges. One of the changes is that tariffs have been increasing time and again making business unpredictable and high costs in the city.”
Moyo also pushed for the collection of legacy debts and the introduction of Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) in the municipality.
“We realise ERM is a new phenomenon world over but the city council is not yet practising it. Practising it effectively means we run more effectively and more diligence will be followed meaning loss controls capping revenue,” he explained.
Ward 8 councillor Edwin Ndlovu stressed that their party’s stance was not a “campaign gimmick,” but rather a reflection of residents’ opinions.
“We are executing our duties as enshrined in the constitution and as elected by residents. Citizens of Bulawayo are telling us what to execute. Remember councillors are messengers of the people, we speak what residents say we must speak, do what people have sent us to do,” he said.
“We are not campaigning but as councillors have to balance between service delivery and resident’s welfare. We should protect residents while there is service delivery.”
Ward 20 councillor, Alderman Earnest Rafamoyo revealed their position as CCC was supported by councillors from other parties.
“Although we are nine CCC councillors, those who support us more than nine,” he said.
“We encourage every citizen to come and attend the budget consultation so they know what is going to happen next year. We don’t have any figures about the budget or information about what is coming on Friday but are here representing views of our party and citizens.”