ZWL$1bn debt chokes Mutare City Council

September 30, 2021

SYDNEY SAIZE IN MUTARE

Mutare City Council is owed close to ZWL$1bn by its residents and other ratepayers, a move which has affected service delivery, Business Times can report.

Mutare mayor Blessing Tandi (pictured) told the Business Times the debtors should approach the council with a payment plan.

“The more than ZWL$900m debt stretches as far back as the year 2013,” Tandi said.

He added: “As you are aware in 2013 most people had their bills slashed by the government and it was further worsened to balloon to this big elephant in the room due to the expectation that there would be another reprieve in the next election 2018 and people were reluctant to pay their dues.”

The situation, Tandi said, was worsened by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, which incapacitated most households around the city.

“Our situation was further aggravated by Covid -19 which rendered most people grounded and left with nothing to ensure they get an income.

“The bills have been ballooning during the total lockdown of three months and the council has not been spared by all this,” he said.

Tandi said the money owed was stalling the development of the city as the council is failing to acquire important equipment and chemicals.

“We need money for street lighting, water treatment, and buying new service vehicles for the smooth running of the city.

“We cannot continue like this and we need to engage with the residents and come with a bill payment plan for the residents without taking each other to the courts for legal recourse,” he said.

“As a council, we do not want a situation where we disconnect water to the residents for non-payment of their bills, we want dialogue and settlement of what is owed to us.”

Tandi revealed that the council was incapacitated in the roads department and engineering section where they are operating with only two graders instead of six and without other key earth moving equipment.

“Most of the time we have to rely on hiring or outsourcing such equipment which in the long run is very expensive for our council.

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