BULAWAYO councillors are calling for a 50% debt write-off for ratepayers or two months exemption from paying bills to cushion them against the harsh economic conditions.
BY TALENT GUMPO
According to the latest full council minutes, ward 9 councillor Charles Moyo said residents were indebted to council as a result of the deteriorating state of the economy.
“Discussion ensued and councillor Moyo was concerned about the ongoing water disconnections, residents were already indebted to council due the current economic situation Zimbabwe was going through, saying disconnecting water during this period would have a negative impact on council,” the minutes read.
Moyo argued that council had a standing resolution not to disconnect water, however, saying it was not implemented suggesting that residents must be exempted from paying their water bills for the next two months.
Councillor Tamani Moyo echoed the same sentiments, however, not condoning the move of allowing residents not to pay their dues for two months.
“Councillor Tamani Moyo, appreciated that residents faced economic challenges, however, she did not support Cllr Moyo’s suggestion to exempt the affected residents from paying water bills for the next two months suggesting that residents should pay 50% and 50% be written off,” reads the minutes.
Alderman Clayton Zana complained that water shortages had been persistent in one of the city’s oldest suburbs, Pumula East where residents only got water at night.
Ward 1 councillor, Mlandu Ncube expressed concern over disconnection of the service without public notification.
“I am concerned about the closure of Magwegwe reservoirs without notifying the residents. As a norm, council was
supposed to supply the affected residents with bowsers, however, that was not done”, reads the minutes.
Ncube urged the local authority to reconnect water in the affected areas before the end of last month, making reference to water-shedding at White City Stadium when there was a Zanu PF campaign rally.
“Residents should pay 50% of what they owe council in terms of water bills by August 31 and council should write off the remaining balance,” Ncube said.
In 2013, the Local Government ministry led by Ignatius Chombo ordered all local authorities to write-off ratepayers debts accumulated between February 2009 and June 30, 2013, a populist decision that left local authorities reeling in debt and battling to deliver services to residents.
In Bulawayo, the debt write-off left council financially hamstrung and unable to pay workers on time.