Residents rejoice as govt BLOCKS council’s US dollar switch

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Residents have welcomed the government’s move to stop Harare City Council’s illegal plan to start billing rates and fees in US dollars instead of the local currency.

The Council tried to switch all charges to US dollars starting this weekend, giving residents just two days notice. But the government slapped down the scheme, saying councils have no permission to bill in foreign currency.

“This illegal attempt has been shot down,” said Shalvar Chikomba of resident group ZNOART.

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He said while cost recovery is needed, charging in US dollars “across the board” makes no sense. There is often poor service but councils “live large”.

Chikomba said councils must engage residents before reviewing budgets or changing rates. Switching currencies “amounts to budget tampering.”

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The government ordered Harare Council to comply with the law, saying only the Zimbabwe dollar is legal tender for local transactions. Finance chief George Guvamatanga wrote to Local Government boss Zvinechimwe Churu:

“Charging in US dollars is unlawful…Any billing for services in foreign currencies can only be done if provided for by law.”

Guvamatanga said only people with free funds can voluntarily pay in forex, but cannot be compelled.

The government directive means Harare Council must revert to billing residents in the local currency like any other council. Residents blasted the switch, calling it a desperate bid to raise funds for CCC’s election campaigns.

Residents have welcomed the government’s move to stop Harare City Council’s illegal plan to start billing rates and fees in US dollars instead of the local currency.

The Council tried to switch all charges to US dollars starting this weekend, giving residents just two days notice. But the government slapped down the scheme, saying councils have no permission to bill in foreign currency.

“This illegal attempt has been shot down,” said Shalvar Chikomba of resident group ZNOART.

He said while cost recovery is needed, charging in US dollars “across the board” makes no sense. There is often poor service but councils “live large”.

Chikomba said councils must engage residents before reviewing budgets or changing rates. Switching currencies “amounts to budget tampering.”

The government ordered Harare Council to comply with the law, saying only the Zimbabwe dollar is legal tender for local transactions. Finance chief George Guvamatanga wrote to Local Government boss Zvinechimwe Churu:

“Charging in US dollars is unlawful…Any billing for services in foreign currencies can only be done if provided for by law.”

Guvamatanga said only people with free funds can voluntarily pay in forex, but cannot be compelled.

The government directive means Harare Council must revert to billing residents in the local currency like any other council. Residents blasted the switch, calling it a desperate bid to raise funds for CCC’s election campaigns.


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