The cash-strapped Mutare City Council is mooting the slashing of residents’ debt by 50% as an incentive for them to pay up their bills.
Mutare City is owed over $18 million by residents, business and parastatals in unpaid rates.
As a result, the local authority was falling short in service delivery and was struggling to pay its workers’ salaries and bonuses on time.
In an interview with NewsDay yesterday following a resolution during the recent full council meeting, Acting Mutare Mayor George Jerison said the local authority will implement the resolution once approval from Finance and Local Government ministries was sought.
“We are still discussing this with the relevant ministries of Finance and Local Government. We sincerely hope that this proposal will sail through because we are desperate to recover our money. We fully understand that the economic situation is challenging so we need to entice our residents,” Jerison said.
In the full council meeting, Councillor Nelson Nezomba suggested that the city should cut by 50% what they were owed by the residents. His proposal was initially met with stiff resistance, but the city fathers eventually agreed to set up a task force to look into how best they could implement the proposal.
Town Clerk Obert Muzawazi said: “This issue has a human face and it’s an acceptable way of recovering our money. But we need to implement it in a manner that doesn’t discourage those who have been paying their bills. We are going to look for a model on how other cities are implementing it and we should be cautious because some cities have collapsed after they rushed the model.”
Mutare is facing financial challenges, including poor water services, poor road network and malfunctioning traffic lights causing many accidents around town.