Bindura (Nehanda Guardian-New Ziana) – A conflict is simmering between the Bindura municipality and the town’s ratepayers after the local authority sharply increased rates, in some cases pegging these even above what the Harare City Council charges for similar services.
The city fathers in the capital generally charge more than any other municipality for services, and rarely are they out-charged by their counterparts elsewhere.
But in its 2020 budget, the Bindura Municipality shockingly increased some rates, particularly for commercial services, to above Harare’s charges, to the disbelief of residents.
For example, an operating licence for a bakery was increased from $1 000 to $31 000, while the hourly charge for parking was raised to $20, compared to $10 in Harare.
Ratepayers said not only were the proposed rates unsustainable for business, they were arbitrarily set by the municipality without consulting them.
“They never consulted us; we wonder who proposed those rates to them. We have been engaging them over the past weeks but nothing fruitful. We are going to have another meeting as the business community,” Richard Phiri, a civic leader in the town said.
Some councilors, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were equally shocked by the rate increases proposed, and distanced themselves.
They suspected the municipality’s top management and the mayor, Carlos Tokyo, went behind their backs, and fixed the rates announced.
“We are surprised too with those rates, we cannot afford them. We wonder where did they get those figures from,” one of the councilors asked.
But Tokyo said residents were not only consulted, but approved the rates.
“We invited people for the budget consultative meetings through the government gazette, fliers and pamphlets and they came. They are the ones who proposed those rates,” he said.
Nehanda Guardian-New Ziana