Chiredzi Town Council has begun be followed other local authorities that are now accepting payment of bills in both the US dollar and the Zimbabwe dollar.
In March, government promulgated Statutory Instrument (SI) 85 of 20 known as the Exchange Control (Exclusive Use of the Zimbabwe Dollar for Domestic Transactions) (Amendment) Regulations, (2020) (Number 2).
The regulations allowed payment of goods and services in either foreign currency or the local currency (also known as RTGS dollar), barely one year after the government had banned the use of foreign currency for domestic transactions.
Addressing stakeholders at council offices recently, Chiredzi Town Council secretary Charles Muchatukwa said the local authority needed to adjust its billing procedure accordingly in response to the inflationary environment.
“Inflation is shooting up and local currency prices are going up on a daily basis. Government has issued SI 85 of 2020 which makes it legal to dollarize using the weekly auction rates from the central bank.
“We had challenges in the procurement of fuel and parts for our refuse truck and other service vehicles. Those things are now being charged in US dollars,” said Muchatukwa.
Council initially released a RTGS$55 million budget for 2020 but that was later adjusted to US$2.2 million when the official rate stood at 1:25 in favour of the US dollar.
In his contribution, United Chiredzi Residents and Ratepayers Association (UCHIRRA) advocacy officer Bernard Dhachi said the US$18 per unit water charge in residential areas was exorbitant and needed to be revised.
“Most residents are earning an equivalent of US$18 and they can’t spend all that on water bills alone. You have to review your fixed water estimates so that people can pay between eight and $12 per month,” said Dhachi.
Chiredzi Residents and Ratepayers Association (CHIRRA) chairperson Jonathan Muusha agreed with Dhachi, saying people’s earning power was continuously getting weakened by inflations hence the need to revise the charges downwards.
“The USD$18.00 you have proposed is not feasible. I suggest you peg it at around US$10 per month so that residents will be in a better position to manage,” said Muusha.
The local authority is owed more than RTGS$12 million in unpaid rates.