Furore as MDC dominated Masvingo council rubberstamps 2019 rate hike

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By Tonderai Saharo in Masvingo

THE Masvingo City Council has raised the ire of residents after adopting a 7 percent increase in monthly service charges for 2019.

Residents, through their representative Masvingo United Residents and Rate Payers Alliance (MURRA), are now seeking the intervention of the Local Government Ministry to stop the local authority from effecting the increase.

Masvingo residents were given a 30 day period to object to a proposed $32 million 2019 budget which prescribed an increase in water and refuse collection charges from 80 cents to $1.45 and $1 to $1.40 respectively.

Over 45 residents wrote letters to the local authority objecting to the impending increase but a special full council meeting held this week went on to adopt the budget.

The residents argued that the local authority could not justifiably increase rates when it was failing to provide excellent service delivery in recent years.

Masvingo City is now characterised by erratic water supplies with most residential areas going for a month without supplies or their refuse being collected.

MURRA spokesperson Godfrey Mtimba said the MDC Alliance dominated local authority had violated the country’s constitution by adopting the budget.

“We have learnt with shock that the Masvingo council has disregarded rejections of the budget in direct violation of the Urban Councils Act that allows for 30 rejections.

“As an organisation, we are writing to the minister of local government to inform him about that and we are also pursuing other legal routes to force council to rescind its approval and to follow the law that govern local government,” Mtimba said.

He added that the residents’ group was even prepared to take Masvingo council head on and not to allow the “arrogance” displayed by the city fathers go unchecked.

However, Masvingo City Mayor Collin Maboke said the increase in service charges was in line with the economic challenges affecting the country adding that residents should appreciate that the increase was in good faith.