Villagers refuse to pay council taxes

marondera_villagersDHIRIHORI - Villagers (Pictured) here have resolved not to pay taxes to the Marondera Rural District Council, accusing the local authority of squandering resources on misplaced priorities.

Council continues to neglect rural roads, schools and clinics. Bushes have grown on the roads rendering them inaccessible for motorists and other users. Schools and clinics are in a dilapidated state despite villagers paying taxes to council year in year out. This time around we are not paying any taxes since the council has let us down by its failure to deliver services, said a villager at a council meeting held recently.

The meeting was aimed at encouraging people to bankroll council activities and was addressed by the Executive Officer Finance, George Marume and Vice Council Chairperson, Gwanzura. Every household was supposed to pay $2 per year in taxes to the local authority towards service provision. Besides sustaining its activities from taxes paid by villagers, council draws other revenue from projects such as Domervalle Game Park, beer halls, clinics, medium and large scale commercial farms.

This council has an estimated 40 000 rural households under its jurisdiction. This would realize over $80 000 annually for the struggling entity if villagers were pleased with service delivery and meeting their obligations. Villagers also expressed dissatisfaction with council priorities: How could council purchase a $33m personal vehicle for a Chief Executive Officer when the organization was cash strapped? Service delivery was suspended long back and council retrenched general duty workers, but to our surprise office personnel remained visibly overstaffed. Salaries and other benefits for the bloated management averaged over $2 000 per month.

This remained unrealistic and unjustified. There was no way any right thinking tax payer could continue funding council activities under such circumstances. Despite council receiving donor drugs for clinics, user fees at council health institutions remained beyond reach of villagers. Imagine expecting mothers charged $25 maternity fees at rural clinics. Who can afford that much? Expectant mothers have since shunned clinics and were putting their lives at risk as they delivered babies at home under unsafe conditions. Council Chief Executive Officer, Tendai Gundo, could not be reached for comment as he was attending a course out of town.

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