Urban councils have pleaded with the government for grants to enable them to continue providing essential services as their revenue streams have shrunk due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
In a statement, Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) president Hosiah Makombe said the lockdown has destroyed informal sector markets where the bulk of ratepayers work and the majority of urbanites can no longer pay their bills. Said Makombe:
All 32 urban councils have been extremely affected to the point that most of them have not collected at least a third of their usual rates. We had a meeting last week and most of them argued that unless they get some assistance from the central government, it would be difficult for them to carry out their obligations or providing water and collecting refuse.
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When the lockdown started we destroyed informal sector markets and these are the bulk of our ratepayers. In essence, we destroyed the livelihoods of most people and since the informal sector is not yet fully operational they are failing to pay their bills.
While the government has gradually reopened the formal market over the past few weeks, only those involved in the food industry in the informal market are allowed to operate, the rest remain banned.