THE Redcliff local authority is in the red following the cancellation of all outstanding domestic water and utility bills owed to councils by residents.
In the run-up to the July 31 harmonised elections, Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo ordered all local authorities to cancel millions of dollars in debts owed to it by residents.
Deputy mayor Clayton Masiyatsva told journalists during a Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe post-election meeting on Friday that following the cancellation, the city lost over $6 million in expected revenue.
“We are now in the red because after the debt cancellation, our obligations still stand at $7 million yet our expected revenue took a knock by $6 million and we are now expecting just $5 million,” said Masiyatva.
Some of the debts owed by the local authority include workers’ wages and salaries for 10 months estimated at more than $1 million. Redcliff also owes power utility company Zesa and Kwekwe City Council for water supplies.
Masiyatsva said only the resuscitation of Ziscosteel would pull Redcliff from the debt abyss caused by high levels of poverty in the steel-making community.
“We have met the Minister of Industry and Commerce Mike Bimha and impressed on him how our future is tied to that of Ziscosteel (now Zimsteel) and he promised that by year end the company would be on its feet,” he said.
According to finance committee chairperson Shangwa Masiiwa, the local authority is currently collecting $73 000 monthly against a wage bill of $105 000 per month.
“These figures show that we are not even able to meet our monthly wage bills before we even start service delivery. This hole is so deep that without external assistance we might never be able to meet expectations or even keep the city alive,” he said.