Africa > Southern Africa > Zimbabwe > Zimbabwe: Major Councils Owed $1bn in Unpaid Bills

Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe: Major Councils Owed $1bn in Unpaid Bills

2017/07/07

Major local authorities are owed over $1 billion in unpaid bills by residents, Government, industry and commerce, a situation half to blame for poor service delivery by most councils. Some local authorities are reportedly failing to collect refuse and provide other basic services and to pay salaries. Residents, commerce and industry are said to be the biggest culprits.

Harare finance director Mr Tendai Kwenda said Harare was owed over $658 million and the city was using various strategies inclunding evictions of those leasing council properties inclunding issuing summons against defaulters in an attempt to recover its dues.

The city, armed with court orders, is in the process of evicting defaulting tenants over debts amounting to additional than $10 million in Highfield and Glen Norah.

Residents owe council $256 347 608, 85, industrial/commercial clients $287 221 637, 87, Chitungwiza $8 069 307,88, Norton $89 562, 02 and Epworth $10 023,89.

"We have employed various strategies to recover the money we are owed. We have availed easier bill payments with various banks inclunding Ecocash, One Wallet and Telecash. We are entering into deficit set off arrangements with larger organisations like Government debts with Zimra indebtedness, NetOne with council bills, Zimphos rates for water chemicals, Local Authorities Pension Fund set off with retired personnel pension," he said.

The city says it hired private deficit collectors - Wellcash deficit collectors - who were efficient but their operations were frustrated by pressure groups.

Mr Kwenda said the city was establishing additional rates and water payment points to cater for the increase of the district areas inclunding plugging leakages at revenue collection centres through automated RTGS computerised system and installed computerised receipting machines, part other strategies.

Bulawayo Mayor Martin Moyo said council was owed additional than $150 million by residents, Government and business.

"We are engaging our residents because the revenue we are getting is declining. We are encouraging our residents to enter into payment plans but sometimes we are forced to disconnect water supplies," he said.

Mutare Mayor Mr Tatenda Nhamarare said council was presently resorting to deficit collectors as it was owed additional than $41 million.

"Debts, as at March 31, amounted to $41 683 786,14. Industry owed $3 509 580, 09, commercial $6 746 513, 68 and residents in the various suburbs owe the remainder," he said.

Chitungwiza ratepayers owe the local authority close to $60 million in unpaid rates and bills as of June 21, 2017.

Commercial and industrial debtors owe $24, 092, 061 while residents owe council $34, 866, 074.

Masvingo Mayor Hubert Fidze said ratepayers and Government owed the city additional than $42 million.

"We are encouraging ratepayers to enter into payment plans. We are getting 60 to 70 % of what we bill. We are using deficit collectors in some instances for the business community," he said.

The Kwekwe Mayor Tatenda Madzoke said council was owed over $30 million by Government, residents and business.

"We are presently requesting our senior employees, inclunding directors, to chase up debts. We are collecting less than 50 % of what we bill, a situation which is affecting service delivery," he said.

He said under normal circumstances, council collected additional than $2 million but it was presently getting between $700 000 and $1 million on a good month.

As of May this year, Gweru City Council was owed additional than $52 million by ratepayers.

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