By Tonderai Saharo
MASVINGO: Fuming residents here continue to pile pressure on the Masvingo City Council (MCC) to review downwards a recent 700% hike it imposed service charges.
The ratepayers are shocked that the local authority, which is struggling to provide water, refuse and sewer services, had its 2021 budget approved by the Local Minister July Moyo recently.
This has witnessed a sharp increase in rates with residents now paying not less than $2 600 per month from the $870.
The increases have angered the residents who in the past week have been staging flash demonstrations and handing over petitions to the city fathers demanding a review of the charges.
Local pressure group, the Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers Alliance (MURRA), said the latest increases were not ‘pro poor’ as residents are still reeling from the economic effects as a result of Covid-19
The Masvingo Residents Forum (MRF) blamed the city fathers for going against the people’s will as the residents had rejected the budget during public consultations held last year.
MRF accused both Zanu PF and MDC councillors of forgetting their mandate.
“The MCC has failed to consult residents on matters of public interest. The local authority is doing things on its own without taking the public into consideration.
This local authority has lost sight and vision,” the MRF said.
Over 200 000 residents in the city are receiving water supplies only four days a month while the city’s roads, sewer and refuse management are in a deplorable state.
Acting Masvingo City Council Town Clerk Edward Mukaratirwa said the local authority would this week meet residents’ representatives in a make or break meeting to iron out the 2021 budget differences.
“We intend to hold a meeting with stakeholders this coming week. Therefore, any considerations to slash or not (the budget) will come after this meeting,” Mukaratirwa told NewZimbabwe.com.