MUTARE– Residents and ratepayers have petitioned the Ministry of Local Government and Parliament over a ‘plethora of levies’ charged for services that are not delivered.
At least 1500 business people, residents and ratepayers signed the petition under United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust (UMMRT), delivered to Parliament and copied to Mutare City Mayor and councilors, Parliamentary portfolio committee on Local Government, agitating over lack of transparency and accountability at the local municipality.
In the petition, the aggrieved parties claimed that council, which has been levying residents for road, fire, education and streetlights without improving facilities in the city as well as hiding behind ‘Ministerial directives’ to shroud their activities in secrecy.
“What has become apparent is the lack of accountability and transparency within the institution (Council), no concerns for the realities on the ground and continually hiding behind the issue of Ministerial Directives that are never presented to the public.
“Residents are further incensed by a plethora of levies, street lighting, education, special roads levies and fire included, charged by the local authority without any information as to the amounts needed to be raised and for what specific purpose.
“Therefore, until such time as the residents and business ratepayers are satisfied that the Council has met these concerns in full, we the residents will with immediate effect, be holding back all dues to Council except water charges (a consumable) sewage and refuse,” read part of the petition.
UMMRT founding director, Dr Sebastian Bakare said it is disheartening that council persists levying residents indefinitely, since 2010 for education without finishing a single classroom block.
“Education levy is very painful for the people because we have been paying since 2010 but they have failed to finish even one classroom block since they started collecting the levies. We have new suburbs without schools, yet children should attend schools close to their location,” said Bakare.
On its part, Mutare City revealed in a Public Notice, dated 03 March that they indefinitely halting refuse collections, attending to water and sewer bursts due to financial constraints.
UMRRT also called on council to engage citizens in good faith, publicize yearly audits of its financials, provide audited reports of levies charged and their specific project targets as well as improving financial systems and efficiencies.