'Residents expect 2018 debt write-off'

HARARE - Residents’ anticipation of another debt write-off in 2018 is among the major reasons behind the high default on rates and water bills, the Harare City Council (HCC) has said.

In 2013, President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF instructed all 92 local authorities in Zimbabwe to write-off residents’ rates and water bills, as part of the party’s election campaign.

“...disillusionment by... the infamous directive to write-off domestic debts accumulated up to June 2013... and anticipated debt forgiveness in 2018 are some of the reasons why council is in a financial fix,” the local authority’s acting finance director Tendai Kwenda said in a report presented to HCC’s joint human resources and finance committees.

He added that the current tight liquidity conditions, revenue leakages and general unwillingness to pay were also other reasons behind the high defaults.

The HCC is currently owed about $500 million by residential, commercial, industrial and government clients. Residents alone owe the HCC $350 million.

As a result, the local authority says it has struggled make payments to statutory bodies and now owes more than $200 million.

The owed bodies include tax collector Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, pension administrator National Social Security Authority and the Zimbabwe Development Fund.

“The position regarding council payroll creditors as at June 30, 2016 is as follows; Zimra $163,7 million, Local Authority Pension Fund $43 million, Harare Municipal Medical Aid Society $1,4 million and Nssa $1 million with the total amounting to $209,1 million,” read Kwenda report.

A fortnight ago Caps Holdings (Caps) and Kebab Centre had their water disconnected for failing to pay more than $500 000 in water bills.

Caps, which had illegally reconnected water supplies since 2010, owed council $428 000 while Kebab Centre owed $94 000. In order to collect revenue from residents and other clients, council resolved to introduce prepaid water meters which would prompt residents to pay to get the service.

Once successfully installed, meters would reduce non-revenue water by 20 percent and increase revenue by about $21,6 million per year.

Combined Harare Residents Association (Chra) chief executive officer Mfundo Mlilo said constant interference in local authority business by the parent ministry saw HCC losing millions which they now are failing to pursue.

He also said apart from the disastrous debt write-off, seepage of raw effluent into the city’s main water sources is costing council millions every month. He said the issue of water was also difficult as residents have to contend with a shambolic billing system,

“If you sort out the system then you will be closing the gaps for corruption. HCC funds Zanu PF through the ministry of Local Government’s interference in its affairs,” Mlilo said.

Comments (2)

NO WATER, HANDIBHADHARE DIRTY WATER HANDIBHADHARE

hre resideny - 15 August 2016

Yes! Yes1 Yes1 Handibhadhare. Mukore uya ndaibhadhara consistently and I lost out when and I lost out when debts were cancelled. Moreover, as hre resideny rightly says, we are made to drink dirty contaminated water.

Madhebhura - 15 August 2016

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