Home » Industry » Bulawayo Residents Owe Council $90 M

Council facing problems … Byo Mayor Martin Moyo

Bulawayo residents owe the local authority over $90 million in unpaid bills, just over year after government ordered all urban and rural municipalities to write off debts owed by ratepayers.

In the run up to the 31 July 2013 national elections, Local Government minister, Dr Ignatious Chombo, at the behest of President Robert Mugabe, instructed all local authorities to wipe off all outstanding debts owed by ratepayers, a situation that left municipalities in financial trouble.

In less than six months to December 2013, the Bulawayo City Council was already saddled with a $72 million debt owed by residents.

In his year end speech, Bulawayo Mayor, Councillor Martin Moyo, revealed that the figure has since shot up to $90 million.

“On 1 January 2014, the City was owed $77, 2 million. This figure has since ballooned to $90 million as at the end of the year. This is compounded by consumers failing to settle their indebtedness to Council thereby compromising service delivery.

“It is noted that most consumers are feeling the economic squeeze as a result of some companies folding, which has resulted in high unemployment. Furthermore, the Harare High Court ruling prohibiting Local Authorities from disconnecting water without a court order aersely affected the City’s collections,” the mayor said.

The mayor also revealed that financial inflows throughout the year have been below expectation and the available cash could not finance capital projects, a situation that aersely affected service delivery.

“Furthermore, Council could not get cheaper sources of funds to finance the bulk of capital expenditure. Council continues to nurse a one month back log of remuneration to its employees. Due to diminished cash-inflows, salary and creditors’ balances have also risen. This has seen Council entering into payment plans with its creditors,” he said.

Giving an update on the water situation, which has been the Achilles heel for the local authority for many years, Councillor Moyo said the heavy rains that fell at the beginning of the year boosted water availability to the city, with all the six supply dams receiving significant inflows.

“This resulted in the removal of the water shedding scheme introduced in 2012, which initially started with a 48 hour period per week and resulted in 72 hours per week in 2013,” he said.

In the provision of housing, the local authority made significant strides, servicing thousands of housing estates.

In Pumula South and Emhlangeni, 700 and 391 stands were identified and servicing is still on going, while in Mahatshula servicing of 300 stands was completed.

A total of 2572 stands were allocated in Cowdray Park Hlalani Kuhle while 1 052 stands have also been identified and are pending allocation in Emhlangeni Phase II Medium density and Magwegwe North high density suburb.

The Mayor said despite the challenges faced by the local authority, 2014 was a remarkable year as the city commemorated its 120th anniversary and also successfully hosted the African Union Sports Council Region Five Under 20 Youth Games.

Source : New Zimbabwe