Lockdown ambush: Masvingo hikes rate charges by 700 percent

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By Masvingo Correspondent

Masvingo: Residents in the country’s oldest urban settlement are up in arms with their local authority which has unilaterally hiked rate charges by 700 percent.

Through their representative Residents Ratepayers’ Association (Murra), residents have moved to engage the Masvingo City Council (MCC) hoping to persuade the authority to lower the charges.

The group urged residents to pay what they could afford at the moment while it took steps to engage the local authority.

Masvingo city council increased its tariffs by more than 700 percent in monthly service charges.

Residents feel this was beyond their reach.

Many were shocked to receive bills of up to $1000 this April, up from an average of $60 a month.

This is despite residents rejecting the proposed 700 percent increase in service charges during the budget consultation meetings.

“Rates were increased by about 700 percent, and it’s beyond the reach of many poor and struggling city residents,” MURRA spokesperson Godfrey Mutimba said.

“As Murra, we reject in total, such an unreasonable services increase. But MCC seems to be unmoved by residents’ genuine pleas for a reprieve.

“As residents, we are comfortable with a 300 percent rate increase and we have submitted all the written objections to the city fathers.

“Some bills now range from between $1 000 and $2 000, and residents cannot afford them,” Mutimba added.

City mayor Collin Maboke said the local authority’s 2020 budget had already been approved by government.

He confirmed the impasse with residents and said the city fathers will convene a special full council meeting this week to come up with a solution to the standoff.

“We discussed the issue of rates with Murra, but the matter was deferred to next week.

“By then, it is expected as council we would have put in place some cost-cutting measures so that the burden on ratepayers is reduced,” the mayor said.