Tempers flare over valuation roll

Staff Reporter

Tempers flared yesterday during a Kwekwe City Council full council meeting, as councilors initially refused to adopt a presentation of the valuation roll.

The councilors accused management of rushing them to approve a ‘valuation roll’ they had no prior knowledge of.

Kwekwe City Council engaged consultant Tinei Goto of Rananga Properties to conduct a physical identification of buildings to determine the total value of properties within its jurisdiction for revenue collection and general administration purposes.

This valuation effort responds to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Call to Action blueprint, which has a 30 June 2024 deadline. Implemented in November last year, the blueprint aims to modernize the operations of local authorities in line with Vision 2030.

Councilors spent nearly an hour debating and refusing to adopt the ‘valuation roll’ after Goto presented an overview of the first phase.

Dr. Solomon Matsa, Councillor for Ward 10, criticized the document for not being representative of the situation on the ground.

“You have just presented a general overview without telling us about the differentiated rating for the different locations. We cannot adopt a document that we were never given to scrutinize. Give us the document, we go through it and we give our input, then it can be submitted according to the deadline. We answer to people in the city whom we should be able to inform also. We cannot just rush to adopt; as directors of this city, we need information. We cannot work with a document we are not privy to,” he said.

Ward 1 Councillor Alex Senge questioned the source of the consultant’s information, alleging that they never visited his ward.

“I do not understand where these people are getting these figures. They never came to my ward, and we cannot make a decision without information. Why are we not getting the information? We can be given the document for perusal and then meet again tomorrow after going through it,” he said.

Councillor Gatsheni emphasized the risks of signing an incomplete document.

“We cannot adopt a blank document and append our signatures; this will cause an uproar with residents, and how then will we defend ourselves?” she said.

Maxwell Juda, Councillor for Ward 9, agreed with Gatsheni.

“We cannot adopt a document we are not clear on. We need time to look at it and then provide our input. Everything else should be put on hold until we get clarity on this issue. As policymakers, we cannot adopt something that is not clear because tomorrow the residents will be up in arms with us,” he said.

Kwekwe Deputy Mayor Janet Ticharunga urged the councilors to focus on meeting the Call to Action deadline and avoid being emotional.

“You are worried about what the residents will say, yet you should be worried about the call to action made by the president. Avoid using tempers,” she said.

Director of Finance Rejoice Dandira clarified that the document was still being compiled.

“This document is still being compiled. The first draft is coming out on Friday (today). They are still working on it; the consultants are not yet done,” she said.

Acting Chamber Secretary Athanas Chidzurira explained that the councilors were only acknowledging the consultants’ ongoing work on the valuation roll and that they had been given a preview of the document.

“Today, we are adopting the fact that we have valuation officers on the ground, and they have presented the first draft to us. But we will be provided with the full valuation roll. It is mandatory that you get the document as councilors because, at the end of this process, you are going to make a final resolution to the effect that this is a true picture of properties in Kwekwe. Basically, what we want to adopt is that there are consultants working on the valuation roll in Kwekwe, and they presented an overview of the properties valued in Kwekwe,” he said.

Chidzurira assured that the councilors would receive the valuation roll before it was published in local papers.

Goto reiterated this point. “We are saying adopt to acknowledge that work is being done. If we keep quiet and we get to the 30th of June, it gives the impression that the valuation roll has not yet started in Kwekwe, and it gives the wrong impression,” he said.

The councilors then agreed to acknowledge that work on the valuation roll was being conducted by the consultants.

According to Goto, the exercise focuses on rateable buildings, excluding council and government-owned buildings which are exempt. He reported that residential properties make up plus or minus 19,622, non-residential properties  that is commercial 1,189 and industrial properties stand at 595.

He stated that the valuation roll would improve real estate information, aiding coherence in planning, financing, and surveying.

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