Mutare City, Residents Fight Over USD Rates
5 September 2020
Spread the love

Mutare residents and vendors have expressed dismay over the local authority’s decision to charge rates, levies and rentals in United States dollars or its equivalent on the prevailing interbank rate, saying such charges are beyond the reach of many.

In a statement last week, Mutare City Council said Statutory Instrument 85 of 2020, as well as the agreement made by stakeholders during supplementary budget consultations in July, empowered the local authority to collect rates and other tariffs in foreign currency.

The council has already started collecting levies in USD.

Motorists are also in for a rude awakening as they are now being charged US$50 for illegal parking.

However, the move has been met with stiff resistance by various stakeholders.

Most vendors in Chikanga and Dangamvura were up in arms with council cashiers on Tuesday and Wednesday as they boycotted paying the US$1 daily charge for using council markets.

Those without foreign currency were given the option of paying the USD equivalent using local currency at the prevailing interbank rate.

However, the vendors were adamant that the charges are exorbitant and those resisting payment had their wares confiscated by the local authority.

Some of them broke into song and dance as they denounced the new tariffs, while also accusing council of reneging on earlier agreements.

Chairperson of the Chikanga vendors, Mr Taurayi Mukono said when they engaged the local authority earlier on, they highlighted their grievances.

“Levies have gone up more than six times this year. Initially, we were paying $3 before it shot up to $23. When the council proposed to hike the levies to $56, we failed to reach an agreement as we are operating in squalid conditions, with sewerage leaks everywhere. There is no water and soap for hand-washing as well as hand sanitisers. Some of the markets do not even have ablution facilities.

“Therefore we were surprised to hear council cashiers demanding US$1 or its equivalent in local currency using the prevailing interbank rate. Those rates are beyond the reach of many,” said Mr Mukono.

But Mutare City Council spokesperson, Mr Spren Mutiwi said it is not mandatory for people to pay rates in USD.

“The SI85 promulgated by Government gives people the option to either pay in USD or the equivalent in local currency using cash, swipe or mobile money platforms. It is not mandatory for people to pay rates, levies and rentals in USD,” he said.

-State Media