BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
BULAWAYO residents yesterday reacted angrily to proposals by the local authority to increase rates by over 700% under its supplementary and 2020 budgets announced on Monday.
Council is proposing to increase tariffs by 300%, effective October in a supplementary budget if given the greenlight by the Local Government ministry at a time when it is owed millions in outstanding payments.
A further 416% rates increase will kick in effective January. The council is carrying out water disconnections to recover millions of dollars owed by defaulting ratepayers.
“This is another slap from BCC to citizens who are already feeling the pinch of the collapsing economy. What BCC is doing is further indicting government’s incapacity to support local authorities to deliver services to citizens,” said Michael Ndiweni, coordinator of the Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA).
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association coordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu said: “This will effectively place affordability of services beyond the reach of ordinary citizens. We foresee dire consequences as people will disown their rates, fail to pay and have their properties attached and more so time when service delivery is at its worst.
“We will be engaging council, and make it very clear that this is unacceptable. If we recall, there was a time when council was pushing for a policy not to consult residents on budget issues and I think this is what they wanted to guard against so that there is no input whatsoever from ratepayers.”
Ward 25 councillor Mzama Dube who announced the supplementary and 2020 proposed budget, however, said there was no going back on rates hikes, arguing the local authority was only reacting to the harsh inflationary environment.
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“The BCC, like any other organisation operating in the country has been negatively affected by changes in the monetary policies, exchange rate fluctuations, the country’s runaway inflation, and other pronouncements,” Dube said.
“Council is, therefore, exposed to a lot of risks such as litigation for failing to settle debts on time; high production costs as suppliers price their products based on either the parallel market rate or the ruling rate in banking institutions. This development adversely affects service delivery.”