RESIDENTS in Bulawayo yesterday expressed doubts over Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development minister Ignatius Chombo’s statement that all local authorities should scrap all outstanding rates as at June 30 2013.
In separate interviews with Southern Eye, residents said politicians were luring voters by promising them things that will never be fulfilled.
A Killarney resident, Douglas Ndlovu said it was not possible for Chombo to write off the debts that rate payers owe the city council.
“He was just making a vote-buying statement. He will never do that because it is not possible,” he said.
“How is he going to cover all those debts? Why is he becoming a Good Samaritan and a social worker now? He was just politicking and people should not take him seriously.”
Catherine Moyo from Pumula suburb in Bulawayo, said although she was happy that credits were written off, she did not believe it because the government once ordered Zesa not to disconnect power to residents that owed the utility money, but the directive was never followed.
“It is just a campaign strategy. Nothing of that sort will ever happen,” she said.
“If it is true we will be very happy because it is sad to see a lot of people losing their properties through public auctions for owing the city council.”
Pinias Chakamuka from Mpopoma suburb said it was not fair for Chombo to write off the debts because local authorities had expenses to take care of with the money from rate payers.
“It is really difficult to say we are happy when we know that we will suffer at the end of the day,” he said.
“That money is supposed to be used for day-to-day services of the city council. If we don’t pay, the whole system will be paralysed.”
A Nkulumane man, Thomas Zombe, said he was very happy because he did not know how he was going to pay his debt.
“I owed $1 800 last month,” he said. “I am really happy that they have finally realised that things went wrong in 2009 and they are fixing them.
“I am happy that now I won’t have to worry about where I will get the money to pay such a huge debt.”
Some residents, who said they were paying their bills religiously every month, said they felt cheated, as they would not benefit from the directive.
“It doesn’t work like that though. We paid and they should also pay,” Florence Nyathi from Lobengula said.
“Those that owe huge amounts must be very happy if that surely happens.”
And those with huge arrears are celebrating, saying they will not question the directive, as that would be the same as staring a gift horse in the mouth.
In November last year, ratepayers owed the Bulawayo City Council $80 million, with the local authority saying this was hindering it from delivering key services.