BY GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA
UNITED Chiredzi Residents and Ratepayers’ Association (UCHIRRA) is up in arms with the town council over its failure to effect cuts in rates proposed in the 2018 budget.
UCHIRRA is arguing that in the 2018 budget, water tariffs were reduced to $0,35c/m3 from $0,40c/m3, but council was dragging its feet on implementation, thereby short-changing residents.
Residents wrote to the Local Government ministry seeking clarification on the proposed tariffs at the same time and threatening to demonstrate against the council for failing to implement new tariffs. However, the permanent secretary in the Local Government ministry, George Magosvongwe, in response to UCHIRRA’s demands said the new tariffs could not be effected before approval by the Attorney-General’s office.
“The ministry appreciates your clients’ concern regarding proposed water tariffs, which remain unchanged despite the fact that the budget had been approved with the reviewed charges of $0,35c/m3 from $0.40c/m3,”Magosvongwe said, in a letter to UCHIRRA and copied to Masvingo provincial administrator and Chiredzi town clerk.
“We wish to inform you that Chiredzi Town Council cannot effect the new water charges in the high-density areas as this has not been approved by the Attorney-General’s office. What happens is, after the approval of the budget by the Minister of Local Government, Statutory Instruments are submitted to the Attorney-General’s office for approval and gazetting. Council can only implement the new tariffs after the Statutory Instruments has been gazetted.”
Despite the response by the ministry, UCHIRRA has maintained its stance, saying the town council should implement the new tariffs or explain otherwise to the residents.
“We don’t see the reason why council is taking too long to implement the proposed tariffs. They should find out the reason why the Statutory Instruments has not been gazetted and tell us, and not vice versa.
“It is their duty to explain to residents just like what they did when they carried out the budget consultation exercise. How do they expect to come back to people for another budget if they don’t give feedback. Obviously, they will be met with some resistance,” UCHIRRA secretary-general Bernard Dachi said.
Chiredzi Town Council chairperson Gibson Hwende said: “We understand that we should have notified the residents on the current position, but at present our hands are tied. It’s unfortunate we cannot implement the proposed water tariffs at the moment.”