KADOMA — A collapsed industrial base, high unemployment rate and residents’ slow adjustment to dollarisation, has resulted in the local authority facing a $14 million outstanding debt from its ratepayers.
Town Clerk Malvin Dondo said although donors had chipped in to assist towards improving service delivery, residents were failing to meet their monthly obligations.
The outstanding debts, according to Dondo, had stalled several capital projects and the local authority’s intent to effect salary increments to workers.
“We are just collecting about 40% of billings which amount to $450 000 a month when our wage bill is hovering around $264 000 without factoring in capital projects and other expenditure requirements.
“We are left with no option but to maintain our salary levels despite demands from workers to have them increased,” said Dondo.
The lowest-paid worker is reportedly getting $150 per month, a figure which workers have said was too little to sustain them.
Kadoma mayor Peter Matambo said council could not increase employees’ salaries given the prevailing cash flow challenges.
“We know the workers are getting salaries below the poverty datum line, but with residents owing $14 million in unpaid bills, how can we address salary problems?
“At least we have tried to ensure they get their pay every month. We face challenges in meeting dates, but salaries are paid nevertheless,” said Matambo.
The local authority has also failed to beef up the service delivery vehicle fleet or purchase cars for its directors owing to poor revenue collection.
“We only owe $3 million to our creditors and if we were to collect outstanding debts we would not have any problems, but because the majority of our residents are unemployed and industry has collapsed we remain far from achieving this,” said Dondo.
Kadoma Town Council has been accused of corruption. Last week, Local Government, Rural and Urban Development minister Ignatius Chombo appointed a commission to probe the allegations.