Desmond Nleya, Business Reporter
MATOBO Rural District Council in Matabeleland South province is at loggerheads with businesspeople operating at different business centres in the district after the local authority increased tariffs for this year by more than 1 500 percent.
The tariffs increased to $5 600 from $300 last year.
In separate interviews last week, businesspeople in the district lamented the new tariffs describing them as outrageous and retrogressive to business growth and development.
“This is quite ridiculous. We cannot afford such amounts because our businesses are not realising such money. We will be forced to charge exorbitant prices to raise money for council which is not fair to our customers,” said Mr Isaac Ngwenya who operates a general dealer shop in Gwandavale.
Another businessman, Mr Moffat Moyo from the same district echoed similar sentiments saying the new fees were too high.
“Council is already demanding the new fees despite the outcry from the business community. They are saying those who cannot afford can spread the payments over four months which means they acknowledge that the fees are too high. Our businesses are in rural areas and we cannot afford to raise such amounts even if the payment is spread over four months,” he said.
Mr Mthunzi Dube who is also from the same area said the new tariffs which have already been approved were exorbitant and there is need for council to reduce them to affordable levels.
“I think our council is the most expensive because our counterparts in Gwanda district are paying as little as $1 000,” he said.
Umzingwane RDC has also increased tariffs to $5 000 from $356 in 2019.
Matobo RDC chief executive officer Mr Elvis Sibanda confirmed the new tariffs saying the fees were inclusive of licensing fees, development levy and leases.
He said the fee hikes were necessitated by the prevailing economic situation.
“It’s true that we have increased our tariffs to $5 600 in tandem with the prevailing economic environment.
“Some businesspeople have already paid and the deadline for payment is January 31,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from Umzingwane RDC were fruitless. — @desmond ndazi.