Council Says No Rate Hike To Match Victoria Falls New City Status

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By Matabeleland North Correspondent

Victoria Falls: Newly born Victoria Falls City has assured residents that the new status will not result in an upward amendment of the 2021 budget as widely claimed by a section of residents.

The local authority crafted a budget for 2021 which is with the Local Government awaiting approval.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa conferred city status to the municipality last week and also proclaimed takeover of water management rights from Zinwa, putting an end to a long standing battle between the two authorities for control of bulk water supply.

The council is now looking up to government for a transition fund to allow it to grow infrastructure and service that is befitting to a city.

“Now that we are a city, we have to up our game in terms of service delivery,” said Town Clerk Ronnie Dube.

He said the city has a takeover plan that needs financial backup.

“I am happy that President Mnangagwa made a pronouncement that we should take over the entire water delivery. This will improve the livelihood of our people because we are now going to be accountable to our people.

“We have a takeover plan and budget and we expect a transitional grant from government to ensure smooth takeover of water administration from Zinwa.

“This entails improving facilities when we are doing our spatial planning we must provide for facilities in our layout plans which were initially not there,” said Dube.

He said the city now needs facilities that will match its status.

“The city status will not affect budget. At the time when we did our budget, we already knew and had this feeling that we will be conferred. So, our budget took care of many other things that we need to do in pursuance of our city status. So, definitely there is not going to be any budget amendment to match the city status. Instead, the budget will be altered gradually as we go, it cannot be an overnight thing,” he added.

The council had a nasty engagement with residents during the course of the year after a contested more than $350 million budget crafted for 2020. Residents said it was an 800 percent increase from the 2019 budget.

Mayor Somveli Dlamini said the council looks forward to government for financial support for infrastructure development.

“In the past two years, we acquired earthmoving equipment such as two tipper trucks, a backhoe loader, a compactor, and a 20 000 litre-water bowser. With all this equipment we will make sure roads are attended to, gravelling most of them and tarring some. We therefore appeal to Government through Zinara to consider increasing our allocation in order to for us to meet repairs,” he said.

The city has no city hall.