Zimbabwe: Mutare City Council, Vendors Clash Over New Tariffs

13 September 2019

Mutare City Council and vendors from the city are on a collision course over the new supplementary budget which effectively hiked their daily fees by 500 percent.

Mutare City Council which is looking to raise an extra $36,4 million from the initial cash flow of $31,1 million through the supplementary budget, effected several tariff increases to recoup costs of service delivery.

According to the new schedule, vendors are now required to pay $6 up from$1, parking fees have been increased from $1 to $5 per hour, while health fees have been hiked by 200 percent with clamping fees raising from $30 to $180.

However, vendors have accused council of being insensitive to their plight by effecting exorbitant daily tariffs which do not match their nominal profit margins.

Benita Goneso, Manicaland chapter president of the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Association, said council was being insensitive to the plight of vendors of trying to earn a living.

Goneso was speaking at a Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD), Public Finance Management Indaba, held recently to bridge the gap between elected representatives and the electorate.

She said while vendors were cogniscant of the need to increase tariffs due to inflation, such increases should not be one size fits all, even for hawkers who are struggling to make ends meet.

"We are in deep trouble because we are only getting nominal profits from our businesses due to high inflation and now for the council to come with such an increase it is unfair to us.

"We understand that there have been increases across the board but they should charge us fees with relation to the kind of businesses that we are running, we are not against paying increased fees.

"They should also show their human and consider that most people in the informal sector are trying to make ends meets, so if they charge us reasonable fees we are willing to pay," said Goneso.

"We are crying over outdated by laws, such policies were made without us as affected people, these regulations are just being enforced on us. These laws are suppressing ordinary citizens whose income has been seriously eroded. We have been condemned to death by such actions because we can't survive."

Deputy Mayor Kudakwashe Chisango said council had widely consulted before effecting the tariff increases, a development which he said was necessitated by the inflationary shocks.

Chisango said council has a duty to provide services and only consummating increases to match the inflationary trends would enable the municipality to provide services.

He said all tariff increases were informed by the need to deliver essential services and said it was unfortunate that some vendors were resisting as council has engaged their leadership over the increases.

"The economic situation cannot allow us to continue charging sub economic rates so we need to move with times, although we are not charging for profit but to recover the cost of service provision.

"Vendors were consulted over the increases because we invested in skip truck to collect refuse at the market stalls, we told them that $1 was no longer enough to sustain the provision of services.

"In those areas which we are raising by 800 percent, these are the areas where we provide daily services, and those areas have infrastructure which is different from the high-density areas and that infrastructure needs to maintained.

"We could not charge them the same percentage increase with the high-density areas and we went through the processes of consultations," said Chisango.

The supplementary budget, which now awaits approval by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, July Moyo, will also hike commercial, industrial and institutional tariffs by 800 percent.

Land debtors' outstanding balances have been increased by 500 percent for all serviced areas, while heavy duty vehicles road levy has been pegged at $50 per day per trip for foreign trucks and $30 for locals.

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