Gwanda Municipality owes service providers over $3 million in unpaid debts, the bulk of which is due to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa).
This was revealed by Gwanda town mayor Lionel DeNecker in an interview with NewsDay last week.
However, DeNecker said the ratepayers also owed the local authority $2,8m, a significant decrease from the previous $4m. The figure fell due to efforts by debt collectors who pounced on some of the ratepayers recently.
DeNecker said the local authority owed Zinwa a staggering $2,9m which the local authority however disputed. He said the remaining $700 000 was owed to other service providers he could not be drawn into revealing.
“The water authority claims we owe it $2,9m, but we do not agree with the figure. The fact that they still estimate readings of the bulk water supply to us due to broken-down water reading meters means that their billings are not accurate,” he said.
Only three out of the six main water meter reading machines are working at the Gwanda Zinwa waterworks. As a result, the water authority estimates supply readings to the local authority.
The council says unless all meters start working, they would continue to dispute billings sent to them if they appeared too high.
The local authority engaged private debt collectors in April this year to approach business operators and government departments who were reluctant to settle their debts despite their success in business.
“Our debt collectors have so far managed to collect about $1,2m from the business community. We are glad that some of them have responded positively to our calls,” said DeNecker.
He said failure by ratepayers to pay their bills crippled the local authority’s service delivery.