Mutare residents reject proposed 350% tariff increase



MUTARE residents and ratepayers have vowed to resist council’s proposed 350% tariff increase saying the hike was unjustified and unaffordable.

Ratepayers from low-density suburbs in Mutare said they were planning to petition the municipality over the proposed rates which are part of the council’s US$33 million budget for next year.

The disgruntled residents from areas such as Palmerstone, Darlington, Murambi, Greenside, among others, led by United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Association (UMRRT), have also set up a five-member committee that will meet the council management to discuss the way forward with regards to the proposed tariff regime.

Council finance director Blessing Chafesuka said they were proposing a US$33 million 2021 budget to improve service delivery.

In 2019, the city’s budget was in local currency at $31,1 million.

Chafesuka said the reason for coming up with a US$33 million budget for the city was to hedge against hyperinflationary pressure.

In the budget proposal, sewage and water tariffs for residential areas remain at the level effected in March, but commercial and industrial sewage and water tariffs as well as miscellaneous charges were increased ranging from 120% to 350%.

Sewage charges for commercial properties went up from $54 to $243, while fixed water charges went up from $427 to $1 923. Parking discs have also gone up by 300%, from $10 to $40.

Health fees will also increase by 150%, an increment which will see children’s consultation fees increase to $75 from $30 and adults paying $112 from $45.

Addressing journalists at a UMRRT meeting, former mayor Brian James fumed over the proposed budget, saying it had several irregularities.

“I am very disappointed, the budget has highlighted a lot of irregularities. How have they come up with such figures? There are also inconsistencies in the format and charges in the budget. In fact, we are going to petition our council over the charges,” he said.

He said they were concerned about supplementary charges that were beyond the reach of many, including small businesses.

Another resident, Taurai Zimuto said the 2021 budget was too harsh on ratepayers.

“It is not a surprise to anyone that the economic meltdown is affecting everyone in the country. So it’s strange for someone in Dangamvura to pay $200 for water and someone in Palmerstone to pay
$2 000 for the same amount of water,” he said.