Masvingo to sue army over $5m debt

via Masvingo to sue army over $5m debt 15/03/2014 NewZimbabwe

AUTHORITIES in Masvingo have raised the red flag after it emerged cumulative debts owed to the cash-strapped local authority by rate payers, among them state institutions, have surged to nearly $21 million in a period of eight months.

The apparent reluctance by residents and institutions to honour their debts has forced the struggling local authority to impose water disconnections on defaulting households, coupled with a resolution to sue state institutions.

Water disconnections are being effected despite the evident threat posed by the recent outbreak of waterborne diseases in the transit city.

Minutes from recent council meeting have revealed the city is owed a staggering $20,9 million by rate payers, a situation that has greatly affected service delivery in the country’s oldest urban settlement.

It has emerged the major debtors include the Zimbabwe National Army, which owes council $5 million, the Zimbabwe Prison Service, which owes $1.5 million, the Zimbabwe Republic Police whose debt is $1.4 million and the ailing Cold Storage Company which owes council $1 million.

The debts have been accruing since June last year – just before the July 31 polls – when government, through the local government ministry, ordered the country’s local authorities to cancel all debts owed by rate payers.

The populist directive, which was viewed as an election gimmick by the Zanu PF wing of the then ruling inclusive government, further crippled service delivery in the country’s struggling local authorities.

Masvingo Town Clerk, Adolf Gusha said a debt of $21 million for a struggling city was too high, given that government ordered a debt relief to all debtors barely a year ago.

“The debts are still high despite the bills having been written off by government up to June 2013,” said Gusha, who added, “As council, we are now concentrating on water disconnections on all defaulting residents, while institutional debts are being handed over to debt collectors.”

Gusha said his council has since set up a debt collection task force, tasked with the job of recovering debt owed to it by government institutions.

However, Gusha said, the task force could still not recover the monies, something that has prompted the recent resolution to sue the institutions.

“We are failing to improve on service delivery within the city,” he said, “We want to improve the city’s sewerage and water works but we cannot because people are not paying their debts.”

Meanwhile, the city’s department of health, housing and environmental services has reported an outbreak of waterborne diseases, with 126 cases of diarrhoea and nine cases of dysentery being reported in the month of February.

Fears abound the diseases may spread as city authorities embark on the controversial water disconnections to recover debts.

The disconnections however put Masvingo on a collision course with central government which has continuously barred local authorities from disconnecting water from defaulting households.

Government argues any water connections would likely pile pressure on the country’s social services which would be responding to the resultant outbreak of waterborne diseases.


  • comment-avatar
    Roving Ambassador 8 years ago

    Who is going to blink first. This is how money is being syphoned from councils to support state institution which government has not been able to fund. The state is bankrupt,so the people unknowingly are bailing government out through their council taxes. Service delivery is suffering because of this.
    Corruption by zanu is the root of all this.
    If the MDC councilors are worth their weight in salt,they should expose all the rot that’s going on. But ,alas, they is lack of leadership and they don’t care.
    This type of chicanery is probably happening all over the country.
    MDC wake up.
    Leadership renewal .the current one is useless
    Do not let Zanu pillagers off the hook.

  • comment-avatar

    Result of amnesty given to debtors. This is what was predicted would happen.

  • comment-avatar
    gwabu 8 years ago

    the thinking among the politicians, councillors included is that there is money somewhere, where gvt will get that money.

    there is absolutely no money, the gvt is broke. if people could be positive about this reality then maybe we as a whole nation could start to do the correct things.

    even if you were to sue (which under the current scenario is not possible) who will buy the assets when everyone else is broke. beside the process may take years.
    just don’t provide the service and stop cracking your head thinking you can sue this gvt. or sue it and get nothing, but you would have wasted resources like engaging the lawyers etc.

    all service providers should stop providing the services to gvt, by continuing to provide service for nothing the thinking in zpf is that everything comes naturally from heaven.