Zvishavane Residents and Ratepayers’ Association (ZRRA) called off a demonstration aimed at protesting against a proposed 2012 budget increase preferring to engage council first.
Council presented a $6 million budget up from $4,5 million, part of it earmarked for the purchase of vehicles for its four directors and council chairman.
ZRRA had called on its members to demonstrate against the proposed increments, arguing council could not afford to buy a Ford Ranger double cab for $53 000 for town chairman Alois Zhou when the local authority was struggling to provide services to residents.
“We saw it as an insult that council would propose to buy an expensive car for the chairman when service delivery is in shambles. The local authority does not have a fire tender and has failed to deal with fires, which over the last month saw cars and a hotel being burnt down, yet they want to buy expensive luxury cars,” said ZRRA secretary-general Tawanda Ruzvidzo.
Acting town secretary Max Mugandani defended the increased budget saying the local authority had to make adjustments to cater for demands by residents, while at the same time preparing for the pullout of Unicef which has been procuring water treatment chemicals for most local authorities.
“We increased water charges by 10c from 25c per cubic metre and rentals for council-rented one-roomed homes in Mandava from a mere 25c per month to $2. This was done to ensure the local authority can continue to provide clean water even after our donors pulled out as anticipated in March,” he said.
“On the car for the chairman there is a council resolution to the effect that the office of the chairman should get a car and we are in the process of acquiring that vehicle. Residents are agreeable, but they felt the one targeted is too expensive and possibly a (Toyota) Ipsum would do,” said Mugandani.
Zhou, however, said he would not accept to be driven around on council business in a Toyota Ipsum and is pushing for the Ford Ranger.
“It’s an insult. I drive my personal Mercedes-Benz and when on council business people expect me to squeeze myself into an Ipsum, that won’t work,” he said.