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Waning revenue base at Chitungwiza Town House warned before
Chitungwiza Residents Trust (CHITREST)
November 21, 2013

Chitungwiza Residents Trust (CHITREST) is not puzzled by the diminishing revenue base for our Municipality as it warned Government and other stakeholders 3 months ago that the slashing on debts would breed a culture of dependency and irresponsible citizenship in the country. A follow-up snap survey conducted by our Research team in the previous 3 months clearly indicates a downward spiral in revenue collection at Chitungwiza Town House, compared to the period leading to the July 31st election induced slash on debts.

A senior official in the local authority’s Finance department who for fear of victimization by his superiors, preferred anonymity revealed to our team that revenue collection has plummeted by about 30% ever since the July Ministerial directive on debt relief.

Our survey on the decline of the council revenue base indicates the following as possible factors leading to the circumstances obtaining at our local authority and others in the country such as Chinhoyi, Gwanda, Kwekwe and Mutare among others.

1. The Ministerial directive on debt cancellation rewarded “defaulters” at the expense of responsible residents who religiously paid their rates on time. This evoked a speculative tendency among most residents not to pay in anticipation of another debt relief pronouncement from government.

2. The further deterioration in the quality of service delivery has also negatively impacted on revenue collection since residents have realized that they can not continue paying for services that are not being properly rendered or not rendered at all. It does not need one to be a rocket scientist to understand the response of residents to a water crisis, where at most water runs in the taps once a week, burst sewer pipes which have become a common feature leading to sporadic streams of raw sewer flowing everywhere, the pothole-infested road network and mounds of uncollected garbage at every street corner due to poor and dysfunctional refuse collection. This situation is also exacerbated by a seriously demotivated council workforce that needs to be saluted for going for close to a year without a salary.

3. The prevailing state of comatose of the national economy as indicated by gross liquidity crunch and the ever-rising rate of unemployment also contributes immensely to the dwindling revenue collection. This is quite critical when about 700 companies are reported to have shut down since the 1st of August 2013 in a country with an unprecedented unemployment rate hovering between 85 to 90% and most commercial banks having effected a ceiling on cash withdrawals.

4. The government pronounced “illegal” house demolitions have also deterred some house owners from paying up rates as they are uncertain of the state of their properties with regards to these pending demolitions.

CHITREST interviewed a number of residents on this issue and Mr. Musonza of ward 23 in Chitungwiza told our team that, “I am afraid my house might be demolished, so am no longer paying council rates as that money might be used to destroy my only residential property.”

While we sympathize with those residents that are failing to make ends meet due to the prevailing economic hardships, we however urge our members, the residents in general and other stakeholders to pay their rates so as to positively contribute the realization of the much-needed services from council. Council is hereby urged to put their house in order and improve the quality of service.

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