No debt write-offs, residents told

Source: No debt write-offs, residents told | The Herald July 5, 2017

Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
There will be no debt write-offs this time around and ratepayers should pay their bills to enable local authorities to provide services, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere has said. Addressing delegates attending the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) annual general meeting in Victoria Falls last week, Minister Kasukuwere said residents should pay their bills to enable councils to meet their obligations.

He said ratepayers should not expect any reprieve from Government.

“You cannot demand better services when you do not pay what is due to councils,” he said. “I am keen to see local authorities prosper and my ministry will support all efforts by urban local authorities aimed at improving revenue and services.”

In 2013, Government ordered all 92 rural and urban councils to write-off debts owed by residents since February 2009 to June of that year.

This followed complaints by residents’ associations over arrears caused by unjustified increases in rates and bills by MDC-T-led councils, especially in urban areas.

Local authorities have argued that the directive by Government crippled their finances resulting in them failing to pay suppliers.

Harare wrote off debts amounting to $330 million in line with the Government directive. Minister Kasukuwere said urban local authorities had generated $800 million in 2016, which was better than all the other sectors of the economy.

“You should use your collective advantage in dealing with suppliers of goods and services by procuring as a group, for example, when procuring water chemicals,” he said.

“Urban local authorities working as a united group could be a game changer in the business sector by determining the prices of goods and services that they procure.”