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Councils seek debts write-off

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TOWN clerks across the country are engaging parastatals such as Zesa Holdings to take a cue from the government and write off debts incurred the same way ratepayers’ arrears were written off on the eve of the 2013 general elections.

By NQOBANI NDLOVU

This was disclosed recently by Bulawayo town clerk, Christopher Dube, who said the town clerks’ forum was working on the matter.

“The director of engineering services (Simela Dube) also highlighted that councillors should recall that $50 million was written off in terms of the 2013 ministerial directive.

“There was, however, no reciprocal write-off of what local authorities had incurred in the provision of the services whose charges were written off,” part of the Bulawayo City Council’s latest finance and development committee report read.

“In response, the town clerk (Dube) advised that the town clerks forum was looking into this matter of lobbying for Zesa and other parastatals to write off what local authorities incurred in the provision of services whose charges were written off in 2013.

“The chamber secretary (Sikhangle Zhou) also reported that Zesa had sued council for the outstanding debt and also challenged council’s right to charge them for servitude way leaves other charges relating to the parastatal’s use of council land.”

Councils argue they were forced to carry a debt for services provided but not paid for after the government ordered a total-write off of all outstanding debts, and town clerks feel parastatals must also have the same burden.

This comes amid reports that several local authorities owed huge sums of money to service providers such as Zesa, Zimbabwe National Water Authority and TelOne.

Bulawayo City Council owes $50 million to Zesa and has resorted to use of diesel-powered generators to ensure the bill does not continue accumulating.

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