Gweru residents demand budget cut

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Gweru residents have urged the city council to reduce rates and services further after the local authority announced a 60% cut recently.

Cornelia Selipiwe, the Gweru Residents and Rate Payers’ Association director, said while the move by the local authority to reduce its tariffs was commendable, the new rates and services remained unaffordable for the majority of residents.

Selipiwe said some of the service fees and charges for business licences had been increased by 3 000%, hence slashing them by 60% would not bring relief to residents.

He said some business would now have to pay $50 000 for licences, up from $3 000 last year.

“What that means is that these businesspeople like owners of surgeries and the like will just pass on the cost to us residents and we will battle to survive and become unable to pay council rates,” he said.

Some of the charges in the old budget that were reduced by 60% are burial fees, which had gone to up $1 097 from $80.

Rentals for council-owned two-roomed houses in Mkoba were increased from $40 to $600 a month.

A fuel service station licence had risen from $3 000 to $84 000 while yearly licence fees for surgeries that were now $40 000 had been reduced by 60%.

Gweru mayor Joseph Makombe said council would review the fee at the end of the first quarter.

“We will review the fees and charges at the end of March and see what can be done at that time,” he said.

“At present charges have been slashed by 60%.”

Local authorities across the country raised their tariffs significantly this year due to rising inflation and the collapse of the local currency, which was re-introduced last year.

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