THE Bulawayo City Council has availed stands in Pumula South that are exclusively sold in foreign currency, with interested individuals being given six months to settle the payment or risk losing them.
This comes a few weeks after the local authority also directed that beneficiaries of stands where servicing was left uncompleted after land developers abandoned the project, will have to pay for the completion of servicing using hard currency only.
In the latest development, the local authority last week flighted an advertisement for 117 Pumula South pre-sale high-density residential stands, where payment is only in foreign currency.
The stands range between 200 and 476 square metres. A 200 square metre stand costs US$5 400, with the Value Added Tax pegged at US$783 while the deposit required is US$2 673.
As for the 476 square metre stand, the total price is US$10 000, Value Added Tax, US$1 450 and the deposit required is US$4 950.
“Applicants will be interviewed and those meeting the requirements of the scheme will be given offer letters on a first come first served basis. Please note that the stands are partially serviced.
Once the six monthly instalment period lapses any non-compliant beneficiaries will lose their stands and be refunded in terms of council procedure. Those beneficiaries with full cash payments will have an added advantage,” reads the advertisement.
Contacted for comment, Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube defended the local authority’s decision to sell the stands exclusively in foreign currency saying there was a need for residents to accept the prevailing economic dynamics.
He said they were caught in a catch 22 situation where they had to complete the servicing of the stands, purchase the needed equipment and also the need to address the housing backlog.
“We need to be honest with each other, as council we do not have the money to complete the servicing of those needs which require foreign currency, hence we are targeting the diaspora market especially.
Further as a council we desperately need equipment for us to embark on more of such developments and for us to purchase that equipment there is a need for foreign currency and we had to come up with a strategy for us to get that foreign currency,” said Mr Dube.
Questioned on the plight of the majority of home seekers that do not earn foreign currency, Mr Dube said their hands, as a local authority, were tied because of the prevailing economic circumstances.
“We are not discriminating anyone but we are in a difficult situation that needs us to think outside the box. I also do not get paid in foreign currency but this is one thing which we have to accept, this is what is prevailing on the ground,” said Mr Dube.
Meanwhile, the local authority has defended the huge bills received by residents saying that this was a reflection of the prevailing situation where the local authority had to index bills in foreign currency, with residents able to pay in local currency at the prevailing official exchange rate.
Over the past weeks, residents have been receiving high bills and some took to social media to express their displeasure.
A resident at Selbourne Park said he was recently billed $80 000, while another resident at Queens park said he was billed $90 000.
Responding to written questions from Sunday News, council corporate communications manager Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said the bills may be viewed as huge, but council has not increased tariffs in US dollars.
“Council has not increased service charges but has aligned the ZWL charges to their US dollar equivalent at the time of budgeting using the interbank rate.
This action was taken to avert service delivery collapse in the city.
ZWL costs of providing services have increased due to exchange rate movements. Residents and stakeholders who have queries are free to approach any Council Revenue office for explanations and the breakdown of their bills.
The council billing system is robust,” said Mrs Mpofu.
She said for the convenience of the paying public, the Revenue Hall will be open from 7am to 4pm during week days and from 8am to 3pm during weekends. – Sunday News