Council rejects rates exemption request
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has shot down a request by the late Vice President Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo’s daughter Mrs Thandiwe Nkomo-Ebrahim for the late nationalist’s estate to be exempted from paying rates.
Mrs Nkomo-Ebrahim appealed to council to exempt Blue Lagoon from paying rates for a year while she negotiates for a business deal that will enable her to settle outstanding charges.
She said Blue Lagoon’s debt had accrued due to tenants who were failing to pay bills. She did not give the exact amount owed. “She stated that it had become apparent that it was no longer possible to raise funds from the business and as such she was seeking a grace period from paying the full rates. She was also seeking the reversal of interest that had been accrued to the account,” read the minutes.
Mrs Nkomo-Ebrahim is said to have put the property up for sale and is also considering negotiating with service station companies to either purchase the property or to enter into a joint venture.
She said in another venture Anzac Investment Project was struggling to raise close to $5 million for the servicing of land for constructing houses.
“The development was of two upmarket suburbs of Mqabuko Heights and Whitestone comprising of residential stands, open spaces, a commercial centre, primary and secondary school sites. The company was yet to complete the servicing of the area as surveys were 70 percent complete, roads are 20 percent complete and the challenge was to raise a quoted figure of $4 960 279 to complete the exercise,” read the minutes.
Mrs Nkomo-Ebrahim told the council that the company wanted to engage the municipality or a private player in a joint venture in selling the remaining stands. Council rejected her request saying it was going to set a wrong precedent.
“The Chamber Secretary said that rates exemptions were governed by the Urban Councils Act in particular Section 270. The request should not be acceded to because the above properties were not within the list of those exempted. The temporary reprieve sought would set a wrong precedent. The economy was generally not performing well and the situation was affecting everyone. The Acting Director of Health Services said that payment of rates was meant to ensure that council continued to provide quality service to all residents. Therefore exemption from paying rates would adversely affect the already precarious council financial position,” read the council minutes.
Council, however, noted that the Blue Lagoon property was incorrectly evaluated, a situation that has been corrected meaning its debt will be slashed by 50 percent.
Recently, the estate of the late national hero Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu offered the BCC some land in Rangemore to offset a debt of over $100 000 the late nationalist’s companies owed the municipality. — @nqotshili