Masvingo residents pay rates at gunpoint

soldiers_zimbabweMASVINGO -- The cash-strapped Masvingo rural district council last week sent armed police to .......

help collect outstanding rates from individuals and businesses, in a move that has left residents at the growth point shell shocked.

Police details from Masvingo rural police station armed with guns, tear gas canisters, button sticks and dogs descended at the growth point late afternoon and visited every business ordering owners to pay the taxes or face unspecified consequences.

We are in state of shock up to now, we were just ambushed. No one knew such a thing was going to happen. We were still in process of?looking for money to pay our taxes but it was surprising to see police details coming with guns to make us pay,” said Eston Bhusvumani.

We think the council officials knew that their taxes were very high and they opted to instill fear on us so that we do not refuse to pay. We were not consulted during their preparation to come up with this years budget, he said.

Those who did not have money readily available had to part with their valuable property such as stoves, radios and televisions as the cops who were in company of municipal workers vowed to take unspecified action against those who would fail to comply with the orders.

Masvingo rural district council chief executive officer (CEO) Clemence Makwarimba said?there was nothing wrong in bringing armed police to force residents to pay.

What was wrong by bringing police with guns? Is there anyone who was killed? In fact what happened is what we really wanted to happen, we?wanted them to have fear so that they pay the money,” he said. The residents owe us a lot of money and the only way to get that money is to use police, said Makwarimba.??

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