Mopani Mines has accused Kitwe City Council of increasing rates by 600% outside the binding agreement.
On Wednesday, Kitwe City Council bailiffs pounced on Mopani Copper Mines in an attempt to collect various properties after the mining company refused to pay the K58 million owed to the local authority under the new valuation roll as approved by the rating tribunal.
But in a statement, Mopani also refuted reports that it owes Kitwe City Council a staggering K58 million in Property rates.
The mining giant alleges that it entered into a 5-year agreement with Kitwe City Council in 2015 to pay K8 million a year and that the agreement remains valid until end of 2020.
“Earlier this year the Council without prior consultation, increased the rates to K58 million (+600 percent) contrary to the provisions of the Agreement, and rejected Mopani’s offer to pay the undisputed amount of K8 million while negotiations were ongoing.“
Mopani Copper Mines PLC has since disputed the rates in the High Court, which granted a Stay of Execution against the award of the new rates.
“Mopani remains a long standing partner to Kitwe City Council. The act of sending bailiffs to collect a disputed debt, which is still before the Court of law is concerning. Mopani has since made the full payment for the undisputed K8 million and remains hopeful of a swift conclusion to the matter,” read part of the statement.
But Kitwe City Council says it dismayed by Mopani’s statement claiming that it has increased the rate by 600%.
In clarifying the matter, the council has indicated that the agreement Mopani is alluding to in its statement was tied to the life of the 2014 Valuation Roll which expired in 2019.
It said the preparation of the valuation roll is governed by the Rating Act No. 21 of 2018 and the process is very consultative as observed from the timeline of events which occurred during the review of the 2014 valuation roll.
The statement indicates that, on the 11th October 2019, the Council passed a resolution to propose the rate levy from K0.016 or 1.6 ngwee in the 2014 valuation roll to K0.0165 or 1.65 ngwee under the 2019 valuation roll giving the difference of K0.0005 representing an increment of 3%.
“The Council resolution on K0.0165 rate levy was published in the gazette on 14th October 2019 and in the print media on 16th October 2019 to invite the leaseholders to inspect the valuation roll which inspections ended on the 11th November 2019,” says the statement.
The Council has revealed that Mopani lodged an objection to the effect that the levy of K0.0165 was too high but did not dispute the value of properties on the roll.
“Thereafter, the Mine and the Local Authority held meetings to narrow the differences in opinion where it was agreed that parties proceed to seek the Valuation Tribunal decision on the rate levy proposed by the council. However, the Valuation Tribunal after hearing both parties, agreed with the Kitwe City Council accordingly. Consequently, the 2019 Valuation Roll came into effect on 1st January 2020.”
“Upon service of the bill, the mine sued the council and obtained a conditional stay of execution which elapsed by the date of execution” says the statement.
Kitwe City council has confirmed that, part payment of K8 million has been paid and the mine has committed in writing to resolve the remaining balance of K21,241,913.51 within five days from 1st July 2020 which is the date of the commitment letter.
This payment is for the period 1st January to 1st July 2020. The Council is hopeful that the mine will honor its commitment within 5 days as promised.
Kitwe City Council has further urged companies and residents to settle bills on time as the local authority requires resources in order to provide the much needed services.