Kwekwe City Council is struggling to pay its service providers some of whom have already taken the local authority to court in a bid to recover debts amounting to almost $19 million, it has emerged.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
The council is said to owe its service providers a total of $18,9 million with the bulk of the debt due to Zesa which is owed $6 million, Zinwa $1,3 million, while $5,7 million was for outstanding wages and salaries.
According to information gleaned from councils’ proposed 2016 budget, Kwekwe was also struggling to settle $55 000 owed to water treatment chemicals supplier Chemplex Corporation.
In her report, city treasurer Rejoice Maweni highlighted that council was also behind in payments of its statutory
obligations to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority which had reached $913 528 and the National Social Security Authority, nearly $500 000, while over $1,1 million was for medical aid cover for employees.
Council debts had been made worse by residents and ratepayers who were also struggling to pay their bills, owing the authority $26,7 million which has accumulated since 2013 when council was forced to scrap residents debts.
Major Kwekwe council debtors were cited as Ziscosteel which owes council $16 million, Zimasco $759 221 and Redcliff Municipality $419 124, among other debtors.
The council’s revenue budget for 2015 was $30,5 million, but the local authority only managed to collect $15,7 million as ratepayers resisted or neglected to pay their debts accusing council of mismanagement of funds and lack of transparency.
Maweni, however, said most of the debts by ratepayers were a result of a poorly performing economy which had left over a thousand residents jobless and with no income.
“This was due to failure by ratepayers to meet their obligations as well as the late approval of the budget. The budget was only approved in June 2015 and thus it’s only four months old,” she said in a financial statement presented to council.
The council said it had, however, handed over some of its domestic debtors to its lawyers.
“Even after the write-off, there are residents who continue to neglect their council bills with the highest residential bill in high-density areas being $2 008,04 while the highest in the low-density areas is $838,90.
“Ratepayers have been handed over to council lawyers,” the statement reads.