RESIDENTS in Epworth are crying foul after the Epworth Local Board started charging rates in foreign currency, even before consultations with the residents and their representatives, Zim Morning Post has learnt.
The new tariffs have already been effected starting August, with the most affected being shop owners, patients visiting local clinics, expectant mothers and residents paying regularisation fees.
“We were surprised to see the Epworth Local Board security team on Heroes Day telling shop owners to pay their rates in US dollars or face eviction,” said one shop owner at Overspill Shopping Centre.
The local board is now charging US$107 for big shops and US$33 for small shops per month.
At the clinics, children up to 12 years are paying US$5 for consultation while adults pay US$7.
Expectant mothers are now paying US$25 to register for maternity while residents awaiting regularisation for their stands now have to fork out US$100.
Speaking to Zim Morning Post at the weekend, Epworth Residents’ Development Association co-ordinator Peter, Nyapetwa, said they were surprised that the local board had passed the resolution without consulting with the residents and other relevant stakeholders.
“We had a stakeholders’ meeting in November last year and did not agree on the budget proposal, and the council said they would revert to the stakeholders again,” Nyapetwa said.
“We know these tariffs were not approved by the Ministry of Local Government so who approved them if the ministry and residents are not welcoming them?” fumed Nyapetwa.
He further said the council was not accounting for all the money that was being paid by residents.
“Its an era of technology, but we see the local board sending people to collect money from door-to-door. How will you trace the payees for accountability purposes?” he asked.
Some shop owners said they had been paying their licenses but their names did not appear in the accounts office.
“Council police always collected money from my shop for the past three years, and one day I decided to go to the local board and my name did not appear in the accounts books,” one shop owner told Zim Morning Post.
Nyapetwa said his organisation had received such complaints from residents.
“There is too much corruption at the council, that is why whenever a forensic audit is called, the board does not reveal its findings to the stakeholders,” Nyapetwa said.