By Judith Sibanda
Victoria Falls residents have sought the government’s intervention over a decision by their local authority to charge services in foreign currency.
This comes after the residents rejected the proposal by the local authority during the supplementary budget consultative meetings held last month.
However, the local authority has gone against the resident`s objections by fixing charges and tariffs in United States Dollars.
“Notice is hereby given that the Municipality of Victoria Falls has resolved in terms of Section 219 of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) to fix supplementary charges and tariffs to finance its 2019,” reads a notice published in the press last week.
The notice also indicated that all charged and tariffs will be paid in foreign currency.
Residents have up to the end of June to send objections to the Town Clerk, Ronnie Dube.
Instead, the residents have approached the government to intervene in the matter.
“They gave a notice basing on section 219 of urban councils act (chapter 29:15) to fix supplementary charges and tariffs to finance its 2019 budget. As stakeholders and residents, we refused to have that budget revised because we have no foreign currency. I am a Tuckshop owner and l cannot charge a small toddler in hard currency nor any resident and l must be treated equally,” said one resident.
Another resident, Kezia Dube said the council officials were insensitive to the plight of residents.
“They called for that supplementary budget yet in March they suspended payment of bills excluding water in local currency. l am a hairdresser and l cannot afford to pay in foreign currency my trading license. When we ask councillors, they tell us that the directive for us to pay in foreign currency comes from government so we want you to convey the message for us to the president that we do not have that foreign currency.”
The parliamentary portfolio committee on Foreign Affairs, Industry and International Trade chairperson Kindness Paradza, told residents at a recent public hearing on the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA) Bill that what the council was doing was illegal.
“Government has made it clear that all government run offices must charge in local currency. What council officials are doing is illegal. We shall take your grievances to parliament, but l can confirm that the local authorities minister July Moyo does not know about that and has not approved anything.”
Paradza’s response however did not go well with councillors, who accused the legislators of playing to the gallery.
“Do not deceive people and feed them with lies,” ward 11 councillor Edmore Zhou charged.
“You know well that this is not true. Tell these people the truth. We buy water chemicals in foreign currency and the bond note is being rejected everywhere. Whatever decision we take will be above the board. You know about this arrangement and it is not true that all government offices are charging in RTGs.”