Zvishavane Town Council says it is now considering whether to sue the beleaguered Shabanie-Mashaba Mines (SMM) Holdings to recover $4,3 million which the company owes the local authority in unpaid rates.
The money is part of the $6,1 million which the council is reportedly owed by ratepayers.
In an interview on Tuesday, council chairman Alluwis Zhou said although residents and businesses in the mining town were battling to clear their debts, the challenge was with SMM whose ownership was still being contested by former owner Mutumwa Mawere and government.
“All ratepayers in general owe us $$6,1 million with SMM alone owing $4,3 million since February this year,” he said.
“The debt is still accumulating as the workers who remained at the mine compound are still using our water. We approached Finance minister Tendai Biti to ask government to help settle the mining company’s debt,” said Zhou.
“The minister said SMM was not owned by government hence government could not settle individual companies’ debts.”
He said the debt had crippled council operations and compromised service delivery.
Zhou said the local authority was now considering taking legal action against the company.
“Many workers are still residing at the compound,” said Zhou. “We hear they are not getting paid and for us to cut water supply would be inhumane.”
The company’s employees are reportedly consuming 65% of the local authority’s water supplies.