Gweru (New Ziana) – Gweru residents are up in arms with city municipal authorities over their proposal to bill for all goods and services in United States dollars.
The council last month proposed to bill for rates and other charges in United States dollars to cushion itself against inflation and fast depreciating local currency.
City mayor Hamutendi Kombayi council was failing to provide services because of the erosion in value of local currency payments due to inflation and depreciation, and hence the change to the greenback.
“Dear residents, the current rise of the Inter-Bank Rate versus our billing rate is causing problems as we are failing to provide quality service delivery,” he said.
But Gweru residents said the move would not only put more financial pressure on them, council could also not be trusted to handle the financial windfalls.
Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association executive director, Cornelius Selipiwe said in the past council officials pampered themselves with such windfalls, at the expense of residents.
“Last time, they decided to buy a vehicle worth between US$170 000 to US$180 000 for a single official at the expense of service delivery,” he said.
“This means their priorities are always wrong. Look at the kind of trips they undertake and so when they propose something, we look at it with scepticism because we don’t trust them with our money in their hands,” he added.
Selipiwe said residents were already financially overburdened, with debts to council of over $12 billion.
“Now the council wants to convert residents’ debts to USD, which is unfair. Council must come up with business entities so that they do not over-rely on residents. Council should take back City Park and the abattoir where they can charge in USD,” he noted.
Selipiwe said the council was not paying its pensioners and workers in USD, and cannot therefore force residents, some of whom are its employees, to pay in USD.
Council’s move would also be a violation of a government directive forbidding businesses from excluding payments in local currency.