Chinhoyi residents on Friday picketed at Town House in protest over what they consider to be exorbitant United States dollar-denominated municipal services bills.
The peaceful protestors, who included leaders of residents and the ratepayers’ association, converged at Chinhoyi Municipality head offices where they waved placards, with one inscribed “Rebasing Is Illegal.”
Speaking to NewZimbabwe.com, Chinhoyi Residents Association (CRA) chairman, Clifford Hlupeko, said the local authority’s property valuation process is flawed which has resulted in some commercial property owners getting bills as high as US$1 700, up from US$200. He said:
There are myriad challenges that we are facing, chief among them being exorbitant rates.
The bills have gone up by 500% which residents and the business community cannot afford to pay.
So we have come here to give notice to council demanding that they reduce the bills with immediate effect. The economy is subdued, who doesn’t know that?
Zimbabwe National Association of Residents Associations and Trusts (ZNAORT) Mashonaland West chairman, Liberty Chitiya, said the new billing system is illegal. Said Chitiya:
The whole process is fraught with illegalities. From the word go, rebasing was done on June 7 this year during a full council meeting, then given to residents as a notice on June 23, what were they doing?
They were tampering with our approved 2022 budget without consultations with stakeholders.
Chitiya said the council should revert to the approved 2022 budget estimates, review performance and then propose a supplementary budget after consulting ratepayers.
The protestors also lamented deteriorating service delivery in Chinhoyi. They cited unavailability of clean running water, uncollected garbage and non-functional street lights among other issues that need to be addressed.