BY KENNETH NYANGANI
THERE was an uproar at Mutare City Council offices yesterday after the local authority increased rates by almost 500% which residents rejected.
The United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust (UMRRT) yesterday rejected the new tariff hike and called for engagement.
UMRRT programmes director Edson Dube condemned the tariff hike, claiming that the local authority clandestinely increased the tariffs without the approval by residents.
“UMRRT condemns the violation of legal provisions governing municipal budgeting by the City of Mutare. We are very concerned with the recent tariff hike on the basis that it was a product of a flawed process,” Dube said.
“Mutare City Council has once again clandestinely increased tariffs without approval and inspection by residents despite several efforts made by UMRRT to get council to charge reasonable tariffs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When City of Mutare advertised the 2020 supplementary budget and tariff adjustments, residents and ratepayers submitted 2 000 objections to council which started our dialogue with city council.
He added: “We had a series of meetings with council in October and November 2020 and council promised that residential rates would not be adjusted and that a review for commercial was in process.
“We had appealed to council several times to consider ratepayers during this pandemic. Most citizens are unemployed, non-essential businesses are closed, informal sector is on lockdown, residents and ratepayers are financially crippled.”
Dube said residents will continue to engage the local municipality to reduce the rates.
“The whole of last year, people were not working as they were more affected by the pandemic. Those who were working never received an increment of over 100%,” he said.
Mutare mayor Blessing Tandi confirmed the increase to NewsDay yesterday.
Tandi urged residents to be objective when looking at the budget.
“Yes, that may be true. Others are saying we have increased our rates by 500%. We have crafted our budget based on the recommendation of the 2017 revenue base,” he said.
“Water is one of the thorns in our flesh and that is where our outcry is. Water is self-financing and ring- fenced as well. My encouragement to our community is to take our budget with an objective mind. We have a lot to be done for a smooth flow of service delivery in the city,” he said.
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