Chipinge business turns heat on council over rates

Ellen Mlambo

CHIPINGE – Chipinge Business Initiative (CBI) is turning the heat on their local authority over recent rates hikes of 500% which ‘makes no business sense’.

CBI members who attended a meeting in Chipinge last week resolved to take their grievance to President Emmerson Mnangagwa if all else fail.

They said that the rates are exorbitant, simply unaffordable and a campaign dubbed Chipinge rates must fall was recently launched in the town.

Chipinge Times heard during the meeting that Chipinge Town Council is billing business that was not operating for the two months of the lockdown.

The meeting which was also attended by Chipinge Town Community Association (CTCA) and Chipinge Urban Residents Association (CURA) resolved to first engage council through the district development co-ordinator William Mashava and if the rates are not reduced, the stakeholders will take up the matter with the provincial development co-ordinator Edgars Seenza before they write to the President.

Some of the delegates told the meeting that the issue was not just about exorbitant increases violation of the country’s statutes as well.

Shop licenses for example increased by 499%, plan approval rates increased by 500% percent, said CBI chairman James Munorwei Gabaza.

A guest lodge licence which was $4 112 in the first quarter of 2020 is $50 000 in the first quarter of this year reflecting a whopping 1 115% increase. A retail shop licence that went for $1 050 in the last quarter of 2020 jumped to $15 149 in the first quarter of this year reflecting an increase of 1 342%.

“We are going to write our grievances to Chipinge Town Council and seek a meeting with the district development coordinator. If this fails, we take it up with Edgars Seenza before we raise the President,” said CBI secretary Violet Banda in an interview with Chipinge Times after the meeting.

“These hikes are unrealistic, we can’t afford them. The issue of paying licenses quarterly is a daylight robbery and a violation of the Amended Shop Licenses Act 14:17 of 2018. Fire and Health levies are being paid yet there is poor service delivery. Residents are paying for fuel to fetch water for firefighting and in most cases fire incidences are not even attended to,” said a delegate who preferred anonymity.

CBI is an advisory body that was launched through the Zimbabwe Chamber of Commerce to represent business people in Chipinge.

Amato Rungano of CTCA said residents were not satisfied with how the budget process was done.

CTCA secretary General Isee Zihwi said his organisation was extremely concerned by the billing of shops that were not operational during lockdown.

Meanwhile acting Chipinge Town Secretary James Mutemera recently wrote a letter to CTCA notifying them on a waiver on trading licenses fees for businesses that were not operational during lockdown.

The meeting also called for the appointment of a public relations officer for Chipinge Town Council.

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