VICTORIA Falls residents are up in arms with council over its proposal to hike rates, arguing their major source of income — tourism — has not yet fully recovered from Covid-19 induced lockdowns since the pandemic outbreak last year in March.
Tourism is the largest source of income for the larger percentage of the city’s population, but since several lockdowns were introduced last year, many have lost their employment.
The council started holding consultative meetings yesterday to get residents’ input on its proposed supplementary budget, arguing that the initially approved 2021 budget of $1,3 billion had been largely eroded by inflation.
Victoria Falls Residents Association (VFRA) chairperson Kelvin Moyo, however, said while budget review was necessary, the impact of Covid-19 on residents’ lives should not be ignored.
“Even though we appreciate that these budgets are done to usher in smooth sailing in service delivery, we, however, feel concerned about the timing.
“We are almost due for another budget consultative meeting for 2022, and we don’t know what will happen given that many in the tourism sector were negatively affected by Covid-19,” Moyo said.
He urged residents to attend the consultative meetings to raise their concerns.
“People’s disposable incomes were eroded and many lost their jobs, so I would like to urge the residents and stakeholders to attend these meetings and deliberate and articulate the real issues regarding the rates and tariffs that will enable both parties to attain a win-win situation.”
Moyo pleaded with the city fathers to freeze interest rates on bills and do away with estimates on water charges, street lights levies, among other fees being charged.
Victoria Falls mayor Somveli Dlamini yesterday declined to comment, claiming he was seized with a series of budget consultations which kicked off yesterday.