Local authorities have warned Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga against inciting residents to boycott paying rates, saying his recent call for a rates boycott was “reckless and retrogressive”.
Outgoing Harare mayor and president of the Urban Councils’ Association (Ucaz), Bernard Manyenyeni said Chiwenga should concentrate on solving national problems than dabble in council matters.
“The responsibility to determine a waiver on payment of service delivery is the sole responsibility of those who fulfil it. It is being reckless for a central government official to advocate for such when they themselves are not being accountable with the taxes they are in charge of. People must pay for service delivery and hold the local authorities accountable for their money. I think whoever is advocating for that needs to re-examine his mind and be serious,” Manyenyeni said.
“Each layer of government should thrive to complement the other and not to sabotage the works of the other. As local government sector, we have a duty and we can only perform when people are paying. Just like central government, it can only perform when taxes are paid. So such a wish, whether populist or just reckless, should be ignored by right-thinking Zimbabweans.”
Addressing a Zanu PF campaign rally in Hatcliffe recently, Chiwenga said council should stop forthwith the collection of rates from areas they were failing to collect refuse, supply water and provide sewer reticulation services.
This came as councils have accused ratepayers of accumulating in excess of $1,5 billion in unpaid rates, thereby stifling service delivery in most urban areas.
Most local authorities are yet to recover losses incurred in 2013 when former President Robert Mugabe’s government unilaterally ordered a debt write-off as a vote-buying gimmick which saw Harare alone, losing close to $166 million in potential revenue.
Manyenyeni said mayors and town clerks under the Ucaz body, were exploring ways to make residents pay their bills and this included discounts to consistent ratepayers.