Chitungwiza Municipality is seeking Government approval to levy business rates in US dollars, although residents pointed out that all business dealings and salaries in the town were in local currency.
Council said tariffs that would be billed in foreign currency are business licences and land sales at a rate of 75 percent of the charges set in the 2018 budget, which was denominated in US dollars.
In a statement, local authority’s acting town clerk Dr Tonderai Kasu said the town was encountering challenges in delivering services due to fuel shortages arising from the fact that fuel was now largely unavailable in local currency.
On July 17, the Municipality of Chitungwiza passed a full council resolution to charge some of its tariffs in US dollars, except for some billable amounts that require statutory approval, he said.
“The municipality has since written to its parent, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, informing it of the resolution and seeking the ministry’s authority to effect the charges for services,” said Dr Kasu.
He said the municipality was doing its best to mitigate the current challenges using the very limited resources that are available.
Chitungwiza Progressive Residents’ Association secretary-general Mr Gift Kurupati said it was a sad development since residents’ income was in local currency.
“Councils are quasi-Government institutions; they are not private institutions,” he said. “Government, through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said we have the local currency, which is our trading currency, so municipalities cannot do otherwise.
“We urge the municipality to charge us in local currency, if they need foreign currency they must go and bid on the RBZ forex auction platform.”
Chitungwiza Residents Trust director Ms Alice Kuveya said the move was wrong, especially at this time of the Covid-19 national lockdown.
“Most residents rely on selling, but since the start of lockdown everyone is at home,” she said. “Where will we get US dollars when we cannot put a decent meal on the table?”