By Kenneth Matimaire
Mutare, July 31, 2016 – The City of Mutare has made a unilateral decision to hike its health and burial user fees by over 100 percent without consultations at a time the authority was also considering water, refuse and sewer tariffs increment.
Investigations by RadioVOP indicated that health consultation fees for children have been increased from $2 to $5 while adult charges were hiked from $2 to $9.
Maternity registration has also been increased from $15 to $30 among various other health related increments.
Burial charges, which ranged between $9 to $30 at various council-owned cemeteries, are now $100 for locals and $150 for non-Zimbabweans.
Mutare mayor councillor Tatenda Nhamarare said they are trying to address the issue.
“We are still looking at the issue. There are anomalies to that regard and we are addressing that,” he said.
At snap survey by RadioVOP indicated that most of the increments had already been effected.
The local authority is mandated to have made consultations with residents as per government policy but investigations indicated that such was not the case.
Only one consultation was conducted in Ward 1, Sakubva, which abruptly ended as tempers flared against 19 Wards that were supposed to be covered.
Resident trusts lambasted council for its attempt to milk cash-strapped residents through unjust and illegal means.
United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust (UMRRT) projects officer Edson Dube said the local authority is not sincere.
“We are saying these are trying times where even the council is even struggling financially but they move in to make such unilateral decision without proper consultations. I can confirm that some of the increments have been effected, their health facilities are already charging the new fees,” he said.
Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Association (MURRA) coordinator David Mutambirwa said the new increments are a great betrayal to the residents.
“This is the greatest betrayal councillors can ever do to the ratepayers. They know that the people they represent are struggling and living from hand to mouth, failing to have three meals a day and sending their children to school and they should have stopped this,” said Mutambirwa urging ratepayers to make peaceful protest against the “illegal increments”.
Meanwhile, council is also proposing to increase water, refuse and sewer tariffs by 100 percent.
“The recommendations from the special audit was that to the effect that council considers increasing the water, refuse and sewer tariffs,” reads a report compiled by acting town clerk engineer Donaldson Nyatoti, which was presented to council-in-meeting in June.
The proposal, under refuse removal, seeks to increase all rateable residential properties from $5 to $10 while all business properties have been pegged at $120 from $40.
They have been increased from $2 to $9 for normal consultations at its health facilities and maternity registration from $15 to $20 while burial fees have been increased from $30 to $100 for Zimbabweans and $150 for non-Zimbabweans.
The increment has been effected despite being shot down during a recent council meeting.