Michael Magoronga Midlands Correspondent
KWEKWE residents have rejected a council proposal to hike tariffs by about 200 percent, arguing the move was meant to milk ratepayers.

Residents locked horns with council management during a supplementary budget consultation meeting at the Civic Centre on Monday.

Kwekwe City is consulting stakeholders on the supplementary budget, which is meant to complement the initial $26,2million budget that has since been eroded by inflation.

Under the new supplementary budget, the local authority has proposed to peg water charges at $2,70, up from $0,80 per cubic litre while fire levy has been proposed at $1,70 up from $0,70, across the board.

The council proposes to hike sewer tariffs by 100 percent from $5 to $10 for high-density suburbs while refuse has been raised from $3 to $9 for the same area.

During the consultation meeting chaired by Kwekwe Residents and Ratepayers Association (KKRA) Secretary General Mr Alex Homela, residents called for an audit within council alleging gross mismanagement of funds.

“I think the matter here is not about whether or not to increase the rates. There is need for an audit within the council. The revenue is being collected but it is falling into the wrong hands.

‘‘There are many cases of corruption within council and they want to continue milking us by hiking tariffs through a supplementary budget,” said Mr Charles Madiwa.

Former councillor, Aaron Gwalazimba said there was need for council to stick to Government directive of allocating 70percent of revenue to service delivery.

“I think there is need for council to stop prioritizing salaries and concentrate on service delivery. If the local authority adhered to the stipulated Government directive, we would not be discussing this,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Councillor Shadreck Tobaiwa also had no kind words for the local authority management which he blamed for not considering the plight of a worker who is yet to get any pay rise amid all this.

Mr Petros Marizani said water charges should be uniform for both low density and high density areas.

“There is no reason for council to separate charges for low density and high density suburbs. The charges should be uniform, we do not want segregation. Also, when you (council) did your 2019 budget, you did not consult us so we are saying now is the time to adopt the proposed tariffs of 80 cents (per cubic litre) for water,” he said.

The local authority is seeking to double its initial $26,2 million budget for 2019 in a development that is set to further strain the residents most of whom were already struggling to pay their bills.

Acting Director of Finance Mr January Mkandapi said the initial $26,2 million budget had been rendered useless by runaway inflation and ever increasing operational costs.

Kwekwe Mayor Councillor Angeline Kasipo said council will factor in contributions by residents before handing the budget over to the Government for approval.

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