KWEKWE City Council is buckling under the weight of a $12 million power debt, which the local authority says has the potential to severely compromise service delivery and day-to-day operations.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Mayor Matenda Madzoke’s council lost a lawsuit against power utility Zesa over the debt and was ordered to pay $33 000 monthly to offset the liability, while also servicing its current bill.
Madzoke said the ruling had crippled council operations owing to non-payment of bills by residents and Redcliff Town Council now owed Kwekwe $2 million in water bills.
“We have been paying the $33 000 monthly, but it is heavy on us, given the fact that we still have to pay the current bill among other needs at council. Our biggest challenge is the drying income versus the growing expenditure bill,” he said.
Kwekwe’s major power bill is derived from its Dutchmen Pools waterworks, which accounts for $10,6 million of the power debt.
“The waterworks, which we use to produce water for Redcliff, are the major consumer of electricity, but with Redcliff failing to pay its water bill, we are faced with a situation that might see us failing to continue to supply water both to Redcliff and our own residents by year end if no relief comes from government,” Madzoke said.
Council has already sent an SOS to Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, pleading with the minister to talk with his counterpart in the Ministry of Energy Samuel Undenge so that Zesa relaxes its terms of payment.
“We have approached the minister and asked him to deal with this Zesa issue and he promised to talk to the Energy minister so that this issue is dealt with,” Madzoke said.
Kwekwe is owed $17 million by the now-defunct Ziscosteel for water supplies dating back to 2009 when Zimbabwe adopted the multi-currency regime.
Madzoke said if Ziscosteel was to pay the debt, then all the local authority’s problems would disappear.