Gweru residents have demanded Gweru City Council (GCC) to reduce rates and services by 50% after the local authority increased rates for 2021 by 132%.
This was said at a recently held budget feedback report meeting at YWCA Hall in Mkoba 1 organised by Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association (GRRA).
Residents stated that, the budget should not be increased since the average wage for the general worker stands at US$60, while pensioners are being paid a meagre US$1.72 from the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), as well as the informal sector is currently not operating at full capacity.
Speaking at the meeting, ward 6 resident Spiwe Nzira said: “As residents of Gweru we have suggested that the 2021 budget should reduce by 50% for it to be in our favour and for us to meet the charges because we cannot afford the current budget.”
“If we take a look at the situation in this pandemic, the market is down, most of the people in our country are cross borders and our borders are still closed meaning they have no source of income.
Some of us are vendors and the rank is closed. We are being chased from the streets by the municipality police,” she said.
Speaking at the same occasion, ward 12 Elizabeth Mazibuko stated that, “As NSSA pensioners we are currently getting US$1.75 this is not even enough to buy a packet of sugar. Things are hard for us and we cannot even afford to buy a loaf of bread for our children, therefore we propose the budget to be reduced by 50%”.
Meanwhile, the local authority proposed an increment on water fixed charges from US$2.00 to US$3.50, supplementary charges being increased from US$3.73 to US$8.00, refuse collection charges from US$2.04 to US$4.00 as well as sewerage charges at US$1.69 to US$2.80.
Local authorities across the country raised their tariffs significantly this year due to rising inflation and the collapse of the local currency.