... 'council has taken a good first step, but that musn't be the end'
MUTARE – City of Mutare has given in to mounting pressure from the youth-led #RatesMustFall online campaign which challenged the 500 percent rates hike which the local authority had proposed for 2021, TellZim can report.
The local authority had hiked rates citing economic meltdown and Covid-19 as the major influence behind the hike.
After protracted pressure from the youth movement and other disgruntled residents, council convened a special meeting on Monday, February 15, 2021, to deliberate on the concerns which the youths and residents were raising.
Mutare Mayor Blessing Tandi confirmed to TellZim that the city had decided to find some common ground with residents after the outcry.
He said the city had made considerable compromoses as a result, with the proposed water charges being reduced substantially.
“Yes we held a meeting on February 15 after residents registered serious misgivings about the proposed charges. We have reduced our water billing system from 6 bands to 3 bands. Our billing had been set at the rate of $238 so we reduced it to about $90 from January to March and it will vary quarterly so that residents can get an understanding of how the system works. We have also reduced shop license fees by 30 percent,” said Tandi.
However, Tandi said this might have a negative impact on service delivery as there would be less money in council coffers to implement proper service delivery schedules.
“This has a negative impact on service delivery because council will be strained and residents and ratepayers may still not fully honour their bills in time. Council’s budget will definitely be strained and the maintenance of infrastructure will be difficult,” said Tandi.
When contacted for comment, Conscious Development and Empowerment Trust (CODET) programmes coordinator, Pride Mkono said council had done a good first step but that should not be the end.
“The good first step has been taken and we must build upon that. It must not be the end because there are many other areas of concern that council did not address. We feel that shop licensing is still expensive and the charges must be reduced because that is an area where many low and middle-income families make a living. We cannot afford to kill that sector though exorbitant charges.
“Tomorrow we will be holding an online review meeting and we hope councillors will also be in attendance. There is much that still needs to be revised,” said Mkono.
Codet was instrumental in creating and sustaining the online campaign which council acknowledged had shaken city fathers.