Kwekwe residents saddled with a rates debt of $5 million owed to the local authority, have requested city fathers to cut the amount by half to enable them to start from a clean slate.
Speaking at a 2012 budget consultative meeting held over the weekend, Tawanda Tafara, a resident, told mayor Shadreck Tobaiwa council had burdened residents with huge debts now running into thousands of dollars after dollarisation.
“My bill had ZW$89 which was converted to $89. I really don’t know how you arrived at such a billing system. It is also unfair for you to demand that we should settle debts accrued in the Zim dollar era with US dollar when money in our bank accounts was never converted.
We therefore want the local authority to cut by half all our debts so that we meet somewhere,” Tafara said.
Tobaiwa, however, stood his ground saying the local authority was not prepared to give residents a debt relief, but would only entertain people who came to discuss the conversion rates used by the local authority.
“We also faced the same challenges with our power and telephone bills. Our accounts were also alienated and as we speak you might have read in the papers we are being taken to court over our debt with Zesa.
This is the reality we all have to live with and as a council we cannot afford to cut your debts,” Tobaiwa said.
Council is seeking to get a buy-in for its 2012 budget of $19,8 million which the local authority has stuck to since dollarisation amid resistance from residents.
The budget highlights will see council collecting monthly fixed charges of $2,30 per household per month for refuse collection, $0,30c education levy, $0,70c fire levy, while charging $0,25c per cubic metre of water. Councillor Weston Masiya said it cost council $0,31c to produce a cubic metre of water.
Residents feel the refuse collection bill is too high given that council was not collecting refuse and dumpsites have mushroomed mainly in the high-density areas.
Council is owed a staggering $13 million by both residents and industry with the bulk of the money locked up at Ziscosteel which accounts for $6,6 million of the debt.