…with graves ballooning to USD$100
Mvuma residents are up in arms with the Chirumanzi Rural District Council whom they accuse of increasing tariffs without any form of consultation being made, this publication can reveal.
Mvuma Residence Association Director (MVURA) Sithengisiwe Kalenge said that they were shocked by the council’s decision to increase tarrifs without consultation of residences and the business community in Mvuma.
“Council increased their tarrifs by more than 300% and we are shocked by such decisions since we were not engaged as residents neither did we see the proposed budget. It was not even advertised when we requested the budget council authorities are not cooperating or giving us,” she said.
Kalenge further noted that they demand transparency from the council since this is affecting them as a community.
“These tarrifs are so disturbing imagine that graves are now costing USD$100, and recently someone could not bury their relatives because of these charges.We demand them to be transparent to us as residence,” she said.
Residents who spoke with this publication said that they were not even pleased with the situation. Yvone Sibanda one of the residents stated that the effects of the tarrifs hike were causing residents especially those who recently lost their relatives to go and ask nearby farms inorder for them to bury relatives since USD$100 is too much for them.
“Imagine we are being asked to pay USD$100 to bury our relatives. Council is being unreasonable considering we know that the council officials are corrupt and prefer enriching themselves. We are tired of these people recently my neighbor died and the relatives had to pay a nearby farm to bury him because they could not afford the charges from USD$15 to USD$100 this is unrealistic,” she said.
Lovermore Moyo another concerned resident told this reporter that they were not consulted over these hikes. He also said that the council management should be investigated by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) on allegations that they are misusing the funds.
“This council is the most corrupt council. It is high time ZACC should come and investigate them. I do not understand how the money we pay is put into use, these people are just enriching themselves and ZACC should investigate them,” he said.
The business community in Mvuma also expressed concerns over the budget with the Chairperson for the business community Anderson Hamandiishe saying that they were not consulted by council over the increase in tarrifs which is affecting most people in Mvuma town.
“The rates by the council are too much for us as business people, flea markets are now being charged USD$60 from USD$30 per month and beer halls are now USD$300 per annum. We do not know how they came up with such prices since there was never any consultation as the council blamed covid-19 for the failure to hold the meetings,” he said.
Business people who talked to this reporter expressed concerns over the situation and also how the municipal police were harassing them. Rutendo Sibanda said that business is no longer the same with the council demanding USD$60 from their flea markets which is expensive for them to sustain their businesses.
“Imagine that business was previously low due to covid-19, and now it has become worse because the council are swallowing all that we have with their charges packed at USD$60 per month. This is too much for us, council should understand that we cannot afford to pay what they are demanding. The worst part is that the municipal police are closing shops demanding shop licences which are now expensive. They should reduce these charges we cannot afford them. It is now causing corruption since we are now giving municipal police money so that we can operate,” she said.
The documents received by this publication revealed that the local council has not yet published the budget and stakeholders are concerned on why it is not yet available. The documents show that the residence association once demanded the proposed budget but is did not come. According to MVURA director the administrators at the local council were not being cooperative.
“We have tried to engage them to give us the budget so that we know the tarrifs they are charging us, but surprisingly they are refusing with the budget and this is not fair for us as residents, we do not understand why we are being denied to see something that should be of public knowledge,” she said.
Business Chairperson Hamandiishe said that, they have also requested that they get the budget but they have not been given as well.
“We are in a difficulty situation they are demanding money for the new gazetted licences for shops but they have not availed the budget to us as stakeholders as required by the law. This budget was not advertised, we wonder what is really going on. We have tried to engage the council officials but so far nothing fruitful has materialised,” he said.
Speaking in an interview with this reporter, Council Administrator for Chirumanzi RDC Tsoka said that the budget was approved and it is surprising that there is resistance from various stakeholders, but during consultation meetings the budget was not even refuted.
“It’s so funny that people are now making allegations but this budget was approved and we consulted them and also advertised the budget in the National papers as required by the law,” he said.