Victoria Falls residents reject rates hike

By Judith Sibanda

Victoria Falls residents have rejected the council’s decision to implement a supplementary budget that will result in the local authority hiking rates.

This came after the council met with residents, Thursday, where it tabled a proposal to implement a supplementary budget of RTGS$56 million, citing that the approved RTGS$27 million had been eroded by hyperinflation.

Instead, the residents said the local authority should create other avenues to raise money instead of burdening residents.

They suggested that the council could demand a share of the proceeds generated from the Zambezi Rainforest.

The Council’s Finance Director Neville Ndlovu told Ward 11 residents that the hike in prices by service providers forced them to revise their budget.

“When we did our budget, fuel was $1,20 and is now at $3,80 and also ammonia sulphate (water chemical) was 98 cents per kilogram and is now at $2,40 to $3, 60 so our revenue and capital budget need to be revised in that order to see us through the year.”

Residents in response accused the Council of abuse of rate payer’s funds through corrupt activities.

“You must categorise payments. For instance, hotel, lodges, commercial industries and truck stop are the ones that must be charged in foreign currency because all their payments are done in that currency. You must also advocate with us for a share in the Zambezi rainforest because all the money is taken to Harare,” said a resident.

The other added “Your overspending is too much and uncalled for. During the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, three councillors were each given $11 000 just for attending and most senior management also went there and were given more allowance,”

“Management must also move from those expensive houses rented for them and stay in Council houses.”

“We have been paying for street lights for more than two decades and none has been installed. You must not take people for granted and we as residents are demanding accountability to all those funds.

“If you are going to cross rate charges, you can go ahead, but forget that we shall pay any cent. We would rather find means of getting our own raw water because even the litter you are supposed to collect is not being collected.”

Others threatened massive demonstration against corruption, abuse of funds and importation of labour by council officials.

On March 7, Council advised that services like lease rentals, trading licences, survey fees, penalties and fines among other services were going to be paid is United States dollars.

Asked if that money could be used to purchase council equipment, Ndlovu said the money was still not enough as there was resistance from ratepayers.

At Chinotimba Hall, ward 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 residents demanded a meeting with the Minister of Local Government July Moyo to explain why the government was allowing councils to hike charges.

The town`s Public Relations and Economic Development Officer Ngqabutho Moyo torched a stormed when he suggested that most of the locals could not get jobs in council as they were uneducated.

This is after residents demanded that most of the council jobs be reserved for locals.

Angered by Moyo`s response, some of the residents walked out of the meeting in protest.

The supplementary budget consultative meetings are set to continue on Friday.

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