THE Local Government ministry has called on all ratepayers to pay up their bills at their respective councils to improve service delivery, saying there would be no debt write-off ahead of this year’s polls.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Transport and Infrastructural Development permanent secretary, George Mlilo made the remarks at an urban infrastructure investment summit in Bulawayo on
“Going back to what a presenter was saying, (that) come elections, there would be that (time) again where you are going to write-off debts. I can promise you and swear here that that won’t happen,” he said.
“The mayors are here, it won’t happen because we have realised the folly of giving false promises, which don’t carry life. We want to make sure that each and every one pays for what he consumes.”
In 2013, then Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo ordered all 92 rural and urban councils to write-off ratepayers’ debts for the period February 2009 to June of that year, in a move seen as a Zanu PF vote-buying gimmick.
The directive left all local authorities on the brink, with some still struggling to stay afloat.
Speaking at the summit, Urban Councils’ Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) president and Harare mayor, Bernard Manyenyeni revealed that local authorities had a 30-year infrastructure development gap, which required quick interventions to stimulate growth and improve service delivery.
“We have that gap and the need has grown, all our cities have outlived their design capacities in terms of almost every aspect of infrastructure,” he said.
“We have capacity issues across the board within local government and also within the country. We will talk about quantity surveyors, architects and engineers, who have never had to do any sizeable transactions or construction in the last 30 years.”
Manyenyeni also demanded that local authorities be included in government programmes such as command housing to address the country’s ballooning housing backlog.