The MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa has called upon various local authorities across the country to reduce municipal rates as the majority of ratepayers cannot afford them.
Some of the rates proposed by councils and authorised by the Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo average between 500 and 700 per cent.
In a statement on Thursday evening, MDC Alliance Secretary for Local Government and Rural Development, Sesel Zvidzai said the party has engaged with stakeholders in several councils in the past two months with a view to reducing the rates and service charges to levels that can be afforded by the people. Said Zvidzai:
Our own expert assessments suggest that reductions of between 20 and 30 per cent will not harm the financial positions of most of the councils. The reductions may cause some gaps in some municipalities.
Additionally, Zvidzai demanded that Treasury fills in the so created gaps by transferring funds to the local authorities timeously and equitably.
The national constitution stipulates that a minimum of 5 per cent of the national budget be transferred to local authorities in support of service delivery demands.
Zvidzai said it incumbent upon the central government to intervene to even out the negative effects of COVID-19 lockdowns on the capacity of the people and business to generate income.