Gweru chokes in $50m debt

THE cash-strapped Gweru City Council says its debt has ballooned to over $50 million and that it is now failing to pay service providers.

BY STEPHEN CHADENGA

Topping the list of creditors is Zesa Holdings at $26 813 028, Local Authorities Pension Fund (LAPF) $12 553 167, Zimra $5 463 349, leave pay provision, $3 729 561, Zimdef $285 640, while other payables are owed $1 360 945.

“Council is consuming electricity beyond what it can afford and to this end, the ZEDTC debt as at August 31 is now $26 813 028,” finance director, Edgar Mwedzi told the Southern Eye yesterday.

He said council was also failing to remit $139 000 in monthly pension contributions to LAPF.

“We haven’t been remitting to LAPF because of cash flow challenges,” Mwedzi said.

“While council is paying pensioners monthly dues to the tune of $25 050, the debt to LAPF keeps on accumulating as our monthly premium is $139 123. The debt so far accumulated to $12 553 167 as at August 31, 2018.”

Last year, town clerk Elizabeth Gwatipedza revealed council was considering migrating to a cheaper pension scheme for its workers.

The financially hamstrung council is owed $62 852 380 by ratepayers and also has $4 642 048 salary arrears dating back to January.

Meanwhile, Mwedzi said council was operating with two “limping ambulances”, adding that the local authority needed four to five ambulances to effectively carry out health delivery operations.

He also said the local authority faced a shortage of refuse collection vehicles and there were plans to procure more refuse trucks.

“In addressing the shortage of refuse equipment, council has procured 10 skip bins, which have already been delivered at a cost of $34 442,” Mwedzi said.

“Council has also procured a refuse compactor at a cost of

$130 000 to be delivered in December. With the recent typhoid outbreak, plans are in place to procure three more refuse compactors at a cost of $525 000. The source of funding will be the estates account and this money is a temporary advance to revenue and will have to be paid back.”

Gweru was recently hit by a typhoid outbreak, which claimed eight lives and left over 1 500 hospitalised.

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