VICTORIA FALLS: Municipality under fire for effecting shocking tariff increase

By Luckmore Safuli
RESIDENTS and the business community in Victoria Falls are up in arms with the MDC led local authority after a shocking 800 percent increase in tariffs, a development that has been described as a threat to the revival of the tourism industry.
At a time the government is working on ensuring that Victoria Falls is an affordable and attractive tourism destination, the local authority has effected tariff adjustments which could make the tourist destination unaffordable.
The proposed 354 million-dollar 2020 Victoria Falls Council budget has seen services, and levies being hiked by 800 % with curio shop license fees now pegged at ZWL$4 697 Zimbabwe dollars up from ZWL$522 dollars while four-star hotel operators will now pay ZWL$59,932 up from ZWL$6,659 dollars for a license.
Ratepayers have expressed concern over the new fees and accused the council of hiking the tariffs without approval from the parent ministry.
The resort town’s business community says the tariffs are unjustified and a threat to the efforts by the government to grow the tourism industry.
“It is not every day that you have tourists in Victoria Falls. Our business is also to cyclical contraction. When you wake up to find out that the licenses are up by 800% it hits hard on us as business operators,” said an operator.
Victoria Falls Tuckshop Owners Association Chairperson, Bernard Ncube accused the MDC led council of failing to take into account the plight of the small to medium enterprises operators and not prioritising service delivery.
“The MDC led council is letting us down as residents and small business operators. We are not happy about the attitude and conduct of these councillors,” he said.
Victoria Falls Municipality Mayor Somvelo Dlamini admitted that the tariffs are on the high side adding that a meeting will be convened soon to review the budget considering the concerns of the ratepayers.
“There has been an outcry from the residents. We crafted the budget anticipating that the inflation rate would continue to skyrocket but we have realised that it has not been the case. We will meet as a council to try to push for an urgent review of the budget,” he said
Residents of the border town have for many years experienced water challenges due to constant breakdown of equipment at the pumping station.