Cornered Masvingo council slashes rates

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By Tonderai Saharo

THE cornered Masvingo city council has given in to pressure by residents to slash its rate from a 700 percent increase unilaterally imposed by the under-fire authority to just 21 percent.

The new rate regime was announced in a statement by the city’s acting town clerk Edward Mukaratirwa at the end of a special full council meeting Thursday.

Residents, under their representative Masvingo Residents and Ratepayers Alliance (MURRA) had threatened to boycott payment on their monthly bills in protest over the unpopular decision to hike existing rates seven-fold.

Residents argued the rate increase had been done unilaterally by authorities running the affairs of the country’s oldest urban settlement.

“City of Masvingo would like to notify residents and rate payers that it has reduced the minimum water band translating to a reduced minimum water charge for high density areas from $260 to $130.

“The basic household bill from $602 to $472. The effect of this is that residents will pay less in fixed charges and their bill becomes more dependent on water consumption,” reads the statement.

The reduction is with effect from the current April water bill statements.

MURRA spokesperson Godfrey Mutimba thanked the city fathers for taking the plight of residents into consideration and hoped for a further downward review on the tariffs

“We appreciate the move by council, but our members feel that the reduced percentage is still low and they can’t afford to pay. We are appealing to council to look for more avenues to reduce further,” Mutimba said.