Cash-strapped Masvingo City Council is set to roll out pre-paid water meters in a development the local authority says will improve revenue inflows and conserve water.
By Tatenda Chitagu
Speaking at a residents’ interface meeting at the Civic Centre organised by the Election Resource Centre (ERC) last Wednesday, mayor, Hubert Fidze said council was due to debate the move at its next full council meeting this month.
“The issue has been raised and we are set to debate it. We are also exchanging notes and looking at other cities like Kadoma that have rolled out the programme,” he said.
Fidze said the move would help council recover $35 million it was owed by defaulting residents and government departments.
According to council, as of last year, residents owed the local authority $10 million, while the remainder of the money was owed by government departments, with the army and police having the biggest debts.
Early this year, the MDC-T-dominated local authority resolved to reach a debt-swap deal to enable it to settle tax arrears with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority totalling $5 million.
Fidze said residents were not willing to pay their bills, anticipating an exemption ahead of the 2018 elections, as happened in 2013, when Zanu PF scrapped all outstanding bills for residents, a move that crippled local authorities countrywide.
“People are not even willing to come up with payment plans hoping their bills will be cancelled in 2018, just like what happened in 2013,” he said.
Disability Amalgamation Trust secretary-general, Henry Chivhanga said pre-paid water meters should start at government departments and businesses that were not paying, and not at individual households.
“Council should start with government departments. We feel that pre-paid water meters can help you to recover money from government departments, which are the biggest debtors,” he said.