New Zimbabwe.com

Chinhoyi municipality under fire for billing non-existent services

Spread This News

By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent 


CASH-STRAPPED Chinhoyi Municipality has come under a barrage of criticism for charging residents and ratepayers for non-existent municipal services.

The local authority is grappling to provide essential services from its 2022 budget of ZW$2,8billion, it has emerged.

During recent consultative 2022 budget performance review meetings held across all 15 wards, residents and ratepayers, besides complaining of extortionate estimated and United States dollar bench-marked bills, were unanimous council was charging for services it was not providing.

Some localities, such as St Ives and Rusununguko, were not serviced before allocation of stands, thereby resulting in a situation where there are no sewer and water reticulation systems.

In other suburbs, nightfall is frightening in the midst of pitch darkness as muggings have become commonplace.

Refuse collection has never happened in some awkwardly planned locations where there is non-existent road infrastructure, with one ‘street’ in White City Suburb littered with rock outcrops, making passage by vehicular traffic impracticable.

“I have grown-up children who have never experienced bathing using a shower because water never comes out of our taps, it’s perennially dry,” complained Rudolph Mashonganyika of Chitambo Suburb.

Another attendee, Sarah Chishanu said, “Our mothers and daughters risk being raped. They bear the brunt of council’s bungling as they daily moonlight for water, waking up as early as 2am and walking long distances to fetch water at houses of Good Samaritans in neighbouring suburbs, which luckily get erratic supplies that dry up by 6am.”

Chinhoyi Member of Parliament (MP), Peter Matarutse

Chinhoyi Member of Parliament (MP), Peter Matarutse attended one of the meetings, where he rapped council for allocating residential stands in unserviced areas, warning that septic tank systems used by households could potentially contaminate drinking water they extract from shallow wells.

“Why does the council continue to allocate people residential stands in unserviced areas? Talking as a doctor, l foresee a health disaster occurring in these areas. It is sad that the local authority is billing these people who don’t even have sewer and water reticulation systems,” said Matarutse, who is a medical doctor.

The MP also raised concern over exorbitant rates, which he said were not commensurate with municipal services and other ancillary services provided by council.

Matarutse also warned the municipality against using rates to fund capital projects.

“Rates alone are burdening those of us with structures or properties. We are the ones sustaining the town yet everyone requires services. It’s also because the council is using money from rates to fund projects, which is wrong.

RELATED:

“There are over 20 000 cost centres, but the council is simply targeting businesses, it’s unfair. Central government is responsible for infrastructural development and the council must concentrate on services,” charged the MP.

Businesspeople who attended the budget consultations repeatedly complained over high rates, which were influenced by a “flawed” property evaluation process.

Chinhoyi Municipality Finance Director, Zephaniah Chirarwe endured a torrid time responding to various concerns by residents and ratepayers, who turned out in their large numbers at Cooksey Hall, recently.

He emphasised rates were the major revenue source to fund social amenities, accounting for between 40 and 50% of budgets.

The 2022 budget collections were below expectations.

“The performance target as at 30 June 2022 was $1,2 billion and the actual collections were ZW$534 million, which represents 43% collection efficiency,” said Chirarwe.

Chinhoyi is owed ZW$604 142 120.92 while it has a commitment to pay creditors ZW$149 841 807.17 and US$64 186.89.

Chirarwe admitted recently dispatched rebased bills had caused an uproar, which forced council to reduce tariffs by half the August levels.

The finance director highlighted the town needed to carry out an urgent water augmentation project to ensure availability of the precious liquid in all areas, as well as general improvement of services.