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Villagers pay council rates with grains

Farmers and villagers in Mutoko are offsetting their debts with the rural district council by surrendering part of their grain and other crops to the local authority, it has emerged.

by Jairos Saunyama

This was revealed by Mutoko chief auditor, Samson Zulu during a workshop on peace building, local governance and citizen participation in rural areas.
He said the local authority engaged the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) to receive grain from farmers who owed rates and levies.

Zulu, however, said the system has since been stopped as GMB was now facing serious financial challenges and failing to remit money accrued from grain collected from famers.

“We engaged the farmers and GMB and agreed that as soon as the farmers sell their grain, GMB will then deduct money meant for the local authority as far as rates are concerned ,” he said.

“This worked well as it proved easier for the farmers. The farmer would know that after harvesting council will get its money from the GMB. However, we have stopped that because GMB has no money. Fortunately, they do not owe us and once they recapitalise we will revert back to the system.”

According to Zulu, Mutoko Rural District Council was owed more about $250 000 in rates by villagers. He said they have since announced their intention to engage private debt collectors.

Officials from Tsholotsho, Nyaminyami, Chipinge and Mutoko rural district councils attended the workshop organised by Civic Forum on Human Development.

The workshop provided a platform for rural local authorities and key stakeholders participating in the local governance and peace building project to share lessons and experiences emerging from the implementation of the project.

The four local authorities were bankrolled by the Civic Forum to engage in various projects meant for human development.

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