Council officials turning away residents paying in local currency

Bulawayo City Council (BCC) officials are reportedly frustrating or turning away residents who wish to pay for services using the local currency, a councillor has stated.

Ward 13 Councillor Frank Javangwe raised the issue at a recent council meeting.  

He said some residents noted that when they go to council clinics and housing offices, first preference is given to those who pay in foreign currency while those with local currency are told to wait for the prevailing rate of the day.

“Residents go to council clinics seeking medical attention but when they get there they are given poor service. There have been several complaints that our clinic staff gives priority to those who pay using foreign currency,” said Cllr Javangwe.

“Those who want to pay with local currency would be told to wait for the day’s rate which takes a while to be obtained. They end up spending too much time in queues awaiting service. The same concerns have also been raised from housing offices where residents who wish to pay using local currency have to wait for the prevailing rate of the day.”

He implored the responsible authorities to ensure that rates are communicated to the relevant offices in time, at least first thing in the morning to avoid inconveniencing the residents.

In response, Ward 3 Councillor, Silas Chigora, called for an investigation into the matter, citing that such conduct is prohibited at council institutions.

“It is very unfortunate what Councillor Javangwe is talking about that those with foreign currency are given first preference at our health facilities. We can’t have that, we do not operate like money changers who say they are waiting for prevailing rates or transfers from Harare. We need to deal with this immediately,” said Cllr Chigora.

“If a new rate for the day would not yet have been communicated, the one that was being used the previous day is the one that they should use. The finance department needs to collect money but it seems the staff is setting its own rules. May this issue be investigated and corrected. 

Chigora added: “There is no way we can discriminate and render services according to currency, that should never happen in our spaces. Can Cllr Javangwe provide the name of the clinic, the time when this happened so that due diligence can be done. We cannot have our staff turning back residents on that basis. Whoever did this should be brought to book.”

In June last year, the local authority started charging services in United States Dollars (USD) citing the ever-weakening local currency, which it said was crippling service delivery.

Ratepayers who want to pay in the local currency are charged using the prevailing official exchange rate.

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