The Claim: Government gives local authorities green light to convert account balances from local currency to USD.
In a message circulating on WhatsApp, the government is said to have granted local authorities permission to convert ratepayers’ account balances from local currency to foreign currency.
The message reads: “Gd morning Please go and clear your rates at the council. They are about to convert rtgs balances to usd. All councils in Zimbabwe got permission from the gvt to do so. The gvt also will get its allocations in usd terms.”
However, the Director of Communications and Advocacy in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, Gabriel Masvora, dismissed the message, clarifying that there has not been any communication from the government in that regard.
“Local authority budgets are indexed in United States Dollars. Our ministry is not responsible for determining the currencies in which people pay. Such changes are communicated either from the RBZ or the Ministry of Finance and at the moment there has not been any communication to that effect,” Masvora said.
“We are only working with the current arrangement that ratepayers can settle their bills either in local or foreign currency and if they are using the latter it would be in accordance with the prevailing bank exchange rate of that particular day.”
On 1 June 2022, the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) announced that it would start charging services in United States Dollars (USD) citing the ever-weakening local currency, which it said was crippling service delivery.
“The City of Bulawayo wishes to advise its valued stakeholder, residents and customers that due to prevailing economic conditions, such as changes in the exchange rate there have been substantial increases in prices of key service delivery inputs namely fuel, water and wastewater treatment chemicals, medicines, stationery and spare parts among others,” said Bulawayo Town Clerk, Christopher Dube.
This has rendered the current Council charges inadequate thereby necessitating an urgent alignment of tariffs to input costs in order to alleviate service delivery collapse. Residents are advised that all Council charges have been translated to the USD value on the date of approval of the 2022 budget. The tariffs shall be translated at the ruling rate on the date of billing with effect from 1 June 2022.”