The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Police Foil Meeting Over Rates

Police in Chegutu on Wednesday stopped a meeting between residents and the municipality over the introduction of a US$20 fixed water charge and increase in cemetery charges fearing it could degenerate into violence.

Angry residents who came for the meeting at Town House found police officers in anti-riot gear had sealed off the venue.

Residents started dispersing though those who remained were later addressed by Chegutu West House of Assembly member Cde Dexter Nduna (ZANU-PF).

Residents' Association chair Mr Moffat Tembo said they were never consulted on the rates increase.

"This is not what we agreed with council in our pre-budget meetings, but we were surprised to get letters telling us that there will be a US$20 monthly fixed water charge which we feel is too high and was not agreed upon. Council acted unilaterally on the matter.

Mr Tembo said they wanted to demonstrate against the municipality's "arrogance" and "corruption".

Town clerk Mr Alex Mandigo said the fixed water charge was for those without water meters.

"Residents should pay the amount so that we are able to provide them with water and avoid a return to the cholera era," he said.

Cde Nduna said the council should create a platform for dialogue.

"We have brought together the residents so that they can talk to council and put across their grievances through dialogue after stopping them from demonstrating against council," he said.

"Their grievances have to do with unilateral declaration of rates without consultations."

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