THERE is palpable fear among local authorities that the Zanu PF-led government might, as it did in 2013, write-off residents’ rates arrears as a vote-buying gimmick ahead of the 2018 elections, thereby further crippling service delivery.
Source: Councils fear Zanu PF debt cancellation – NewsDay Zimbabwe August 24, 2016
By KHANYILE MLOTSHWA
The issue of debt cancellation and emergence of partisan housing projects that are not in line with local authorities’ development programmes, generated heated debate at the ongoing workshop for the media and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on public finance reporting.
The workshop is being held in Bulawayo.
Mbuso Fuzwayo, a member of the Gwanda Residents’ Association and also a civil activist said the cancellation of debts in 2013 paralysed service provision at most local authorities, adding fears abound there will be a repeat come the 2018 elections.
“Even the justification by the (Local Government) minister did nothing to tell us of the legality or illegality of what happened in 2013,” he said.
“What has happened is that local authorities are complaining about it and as it is there is no service delivery going on. Local authorities fear that the debts may be cancelled again in 2018.”
Precious Shumba of the Harare Residents Trust noted that the debts in 2013 were cancelled in the context of the high salaries that council executives were paying themselves.
Participants also raised concern over Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere’s recent move to bypass local authorities and dole out residential stands mostly to Zanu PF youths.
They said the stands were being allocated outside the housing waiting lists and the broader development plans of urban authorities concerned.
Giving a keynote address, Senate President, Edna Madzongwe said: “Without a competent media fraternity and CSOs, openness, accountability and transparency may become impossible virtues to achieve.
“The media and the CSOs are the moral vanguards of accountability. How well the media fulfils these functions is vital. We are all accountable to the people of Zimbabwe. Parliament is cognisant of the important role that both the media and CSOs play in connecting it to its key stakeholders, the public.”