By Criswell Chisango
Karoi, November 15, 2013 – Karoi residents have snubbed some meetings to deliberate on the formulation of the 2014 council budget claiming that the local authority has nothing to offer to entice potential investors.
Senior council officials including the director of finance Abel Mutikani spearheading the consultations are failing to get more residents during the outreach ward meetings.
At Chikangwe hall where Mutikani was leading the team with councilors Lavender Chiwaya, Dennis Chigumo less than twenty people attended the meeting.
“We look forward to see people giving us input as we formulate the forthcoming national budget that we hope will have no major changes as rates are likely to be slashed,’’ pleaded Mutikani.
Mutikani was quizzed why the Karoi Town Council charged high fees which were scaring away investors.
Barber shops owners complained that they were being charged commercial rates which they can’t afford.
“Why are they charging us commercial rates when we are in a high density suburb and there is no business to talk about? We are paying $45 monthly and this is too much for us,’’ said Ronald Phiri.
The council is under pressure to pay its workers outstanding salaries for the past five months citing a cash crunch.
However, council sources revealed that the local authority is not getting enough revenue to pay its work force following the slashing of rates after the July elections.
“’There are outstanding salaries dating back to five months and we cannot get money to pay. We are still yet to pay off last year’s bonus and it has been an outstanding issue for the worker,’’ said a senior official speaking on condition that he is not named.
Last year, the council resorted to ‘’monthly promotions’’ where rates were reduced by 50 percent in a move aimed at enticing residents to pay outstanding rates since 2010, but the little it got was slashed by a government decree to drastically reduce rates in July
Residents queried on developmental levy pegged at 50 cents per month.
“We have been paying development levy since the 1980s but there is nothing tangible to prove that the council is concerned to improve its status,’’ complained Tobias Murendo.
Ironically the council charges $2 as street light levy when major high density suburbs are always in darkness owing to power outages.
“Why are we paying for streets lights,’’ charged Obert Kaparamhanga of Chiedza.
The council proposed to impose a $20 penalty fee to vegetable vendors if they fail to pay a daily charge of $1.
“Where do they think I will get the $20 penalty if I cannot get $1 in the first place?’’ queried Mbuya Tendai Magara aged 65 years of Chikangwe.
However, council secretary Maxwell Kaitano downplayed the poor attendance saying they will continue to engage residents.
‘’We are still to engage the residents so that whatever comes out of the budget will have input from them. We must enhance communication with residents.’’ Kaitano said in a telephone interview.
Last year, the workers resorted to a week long strike demanding outstanding salaries and a pact was reached but the council did not keep the promise.