HomeNewsGovt agrees to write off councils' debts, but ...

Govt agrees to write off councils’ debts, but …

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THE Local Government ministry has reportedly “agreed” to write off debts incurred by local authorities countrywide in 2013 after they were ordered by President Robert Mugabe to cancel all outstanding domestic bills ahead of elections held that year.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU/TATENDA CHITAGU

This was revealed by Local Government Parliamentary Portfolio Committee chairperson, Irene Zindi yesterday at the launch of a State of a Service Delivery Report in Mutare, Manicaland province.

In the run-up to the 2013 harmonised elections, then Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo ordered all local authorities to council residents’ outstanding bills stretching back to 2009, leaving most councils financially crippled.

Opposition parties condemned the move as a “cheap and populist” Zanu PF vote-buying gimmick.

Zindi said Kasukuwere had accepted her committee’s recommendations to write off debts incurred by local authorities after Chombo’s directive.

“As a portfolio committee, we made recommendations in our last report that we tabled in the last fourth session of Parliament that government also has to write off all other debts that were incurred by local authorities. It is already happening,” she said.

“That position (to cancel debts incurred by councils) has been taken and been embraced by the ministry. It has been taken on board, but we are yet to see the implementation of that. In our consultations with local authorities, they raised that issue of the debt that was written off by government that it had created havoc in terms of financial management systems.”

Councils have argued they are still struggling to get back on their feet and offer efficient service delivery following the 2013 government directive.

The State of Service Delivery Report follows a baseline survey conducted between February and March this year by the “We Pay, You Deliver” consortium of several civic society organisations (CSOs).

The survey was done in Masvingo, Bulawayo, Harare and Mutare. The CSOs involved in the project include Zimbabwe ACT Alliance, Combined Harare Residents’ Association, Habbakuk Trust, Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association, Women’s Institute for Leadership Development, Zimbabwe Women Resources Centre Network, Diakon and Harare Residents Trust.

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