MDC-T councillors and mayors drawn from across the country yesterday told their party leader that their revenue levels had plummeted to unsustainable levels following a June 2013 directive by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo compelling all local authorities to write-off residents’ debts.
BY MOSES MATENGA
The councillors told their party leader that they were now collecting far less than their recurrent expenditure as a result of Chombo’s directive.
The former prime minister also heard that most MDC-T dominated authorities were being sabotaged by government officials in a bid to discredit the opposition party.
In a statement, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said: “He (Tsvangirai) was shocked at the information he received from the mayors on how service delivery had been grievously undermined by political interference particularly from Zanu PF politicians.
“It emerged in the meeting that revenues had dwindled in almost all the local authorities especially after Chombo ordered councils to cancel all debts in the run-up to the July 31 election.”
As a result of the dwindling revenue, the council bosses told Tsvangirai that councils were failing to pay workers and were not investing in delivery projects like water and sanitation, roads, refuse collection and housing.
In Gweru, revenue has reportedly dwindled from $2 million per month to $500 000 against a salary bill of about $600 000.
“In Chitungwiza, which turned out to have the most problems, revenues dwindled to $1 million per month against a wage bill of $1,7 million, meaning there will be nothing for service delivery and other capital expenditure,” Tamborinyoka said.
The city fathers also told Tsvangirai that they were facing resistance from council management and were denied access to salary schedules for top management.
The councillors argued that the salary schedules would help inform them on whether they were in compliance with government’s recommended 70:30 service delivery/salary ratio.
In Harare, councillors have held three meetings so far in a bid to convince the town clerk Tendai Mahachi to produce the executive’s salary schedule, but all in vain.
“Other problems that emerged ranged from acute housing backlogs in almost all the councils due to shortage of land, poor refuse collection, poor roads and water and sanitation as well as unplanned settlements mostly spearheaded by Zanu PF barons.”