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Two weeks ago, some Musina residents gathered at Old Nancefield Community Hall to discuss the new "penalties" charged by the VDM. Photo supplied.

Musina residents upset about VDM's 'penalty charges'

Date: 07 March 2024 By: Bernard Chiguvare

The charging of “penalty fees” on the accounts of some residents of the Musina Municipality caused an outcry and also led to the temporary closure of the local municipality two weeks ago. However, the charges were later discovered not to have been instituted by the Musina Municipality but by the Vhembe District Municipality (VDM).

On 27 February, a group of Musina residents closed the offices of the Musina Municipality. They had apparently agreed to discuss their grievances with the MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements, and Traditional Affairs, Basikopo Makamu, and the Musina Political Management Team (PMT). When the MEC and the PMT members did not arrive for the meeting, the angry members started to block entrances to the municipality.

The residents’ big concern was the additional charges that appeared on their municipal accounts. The charges were described as “Refuse contravening use,” “Sewerage contravening use,” and “Water contravening”.

“We are four municipalities under the Vhembe District Municipality, and we would like to know what this contravening use is all about and why it is only applicable to Musina residents,” said Geraldine Norton, one of the residents who has been paying the charges since 2020.

The spokesperson for the Musina Municipality, Mr Wilson Dzebu, said that these penalties were not being charged by the Musina Municipality.

Vhembe District Municipality’s spokesperson, Mr Matodzi Ralushai, explained that certain property owners were being charged for contravening the land-use scheme. This happens, for example, when a landowner operates a business on residential land. In some cases, landowners erect outside rooms or extra buildings without the necessary building plans’ being approved by the municipality.

The concerned residents agreed that those paying for the contravening use had built additional structures on their yards. They claim the structures are for their children. “Most of our children are grown up, married, and have families but they are not working at all, hence we are building some structures at the back,” explained Norton.

Ralushai further said such construction impacted the municipality’s infrastructure-service capacity, where the current sewer and water system was overloaded from the increased number of households.

Meanwhile, MEC Makamu is encouraging the Musina Political Management Team to meet the concerned residents urgently to find a way forward. The office of the MEC will keep an eye on developments and intervene when circumstances require this, a spokesperson stated.

 

 
 
 

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Bernard Chiguvare

Bernard Chiguvare is a Zimbabwean-born journalist. He writes mainly for the online publication, Groundup.

 
 

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