HomeLocalWar over city rates

War over city rates

By NQOBANI NDLOVU

THE MDC Bulawayo provincial executive has crossed paths with its councillors, describing them as a big let-down for pushing elitist policies amid fears this will dearly cost the opposition party in the city in the next elections.

This comes after the government approved the MDC-led Bulawayo City Council’s $2 779 412 294 budget, which will see rates increasing by about 416%, four months after another 300% hike.

Bulawayo residents have also reacted angrily to the 716% tariff hike, but city fathers have dug in and ruled out any chances of slashing the rates.

The MDC Bulawayo provincial executive has sided with residents and threatened to whip the councillors into line to force them to reverse the tariffs on fears of losing the support of angry ratepayers.

“With these elitist policies means of production will be high, property rates will go up resulting in exorbitant rentals, high prices of goods and services and that should not come from the MDC but Zanu PF we are fighting,” Swithern Chiroodza, the MDC Bulawayo provincial spokesperson said.

“These kind of policies threaten the existence of the party; and as a party, we do not support such and we would have failed the people if we adopt these kind of policies.

“We are looking at the way forward as a party.

“They did not consult the province, not that they have to consult everyday but on issues that impact on the daily lives of our people they should have consulted the province as it is a major policy, which affects the generality of the people.”

Chiroodza said high tariffs would alienate voters from the MDC.

“Zanu PF pushes pro-poor policies in rural areas and it is paying huge dividends for them, and what do we do in towns where we run municipalities, we do the exact opposite, punishing people with exorbitant rates,” he added.

“Surely, these things will impact on our vote come elections and they will lead to apathy in 2023.

“Our duty is to build the party and that also means protecting the party from such elitist and ruinous policies that the councillors have imposed on the people.”

The Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA), however, warned against political party interference in council business with the associations’ coordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu noting that this will set a bad precedence.

“What we don’t want is political party interference in council operations,” he said.

“It might sound like a noble idea; their statement is huge in the contest of what is happening in the council but we feel the party should not be dictating what the council should be doping.

“They should not super impose party as that will set a wrong precedent going forward.”

In a letter addressed to councillors, town clerk Christopher Dube and mayor Solomon Mguni dated March 4, BPRA pleaded with council to look for alternative revenue streams instead of punishing ratepayers with unaffordable charges.

The BPRA urged city fathers to consider setting aside the October 300% rates increase, and also stop funding the Bulawayo City Football Club and re-direct the resources to council services that benefit residents.

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