By Tonderai Saharo
THE Masvingo City Council is proposing a 200 percent hike on rates citing bankruptcy and the rising costs delivering services flawlessly in the city.
This has however raised the ire of residents who accuse the local authority of years of poor service delivery and the abuse of rate payers’ funds.
Masvingo United Residents and Rate Payers Alliance (MURRA) spokesperson Godfrey Mtimba said it was shocking for a local authority with one of the highest rates in the country to further propose an upward review.
Mtimba said residents have since rejected the supplementary budget proposal during ongoing council’s consultation meetings.
“We are extremely against the idea of increasing charges at a time residents’ sources of income remain stagnant.
“Masvingo city council is one of the few urban councils that increased rates by 60% during the 2019 budget and why a supplementary budget barely a year of adopting it,” Mtimba said.
He added that residents were now losing confidence on council management‘s ability to manage public funds as a number of projects initiated several years ago are yet to come to completion, with the expansion of the city’s main sewer line topping the list.
This is despite council receiving funds running into millions of US dollars from NSSA a decade ago for the project. The local authority only dug trenches and abandoned the project midway.
Shortage of tap water has become the order of the day for over 200 000 residents as the country’s first urban settlement’s pumping capacity can nolonger cope the rise in population, while garbage collection is now done by a single truck.
Masvingo mayor advocate Collin Maboke defended the need for a supplementary budget saying the cost of offering services to residents was now beyond the reach of council.
He said the current councillors inherited a rotting entity and they are doing their best to bring the house in order.
“Some of the challenges we are facing were created by the previous council and we inherited the burden.
“Plans are already there for us to improve on the quality of service we offer to residents but this has now been made difficult by the economic situation that is prevailing.
“Funds we had budgeted for the city’s major projects have already been reduced to nothing,” Maboke said.