Bulawayo rejects Zinwa debt cancellation plea

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THE BULAWAYO City Council has turned down a request by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) to cancel a debt of about
$700 000.

NQOBANI NDLOVU
STAFF REPORTER

Zinwa had pleaded with the local authority to view it like domestic consumers that benefited from last year’s government directive ordering local authorities to write off debts.

Zinwa Umzingwane’s catchment area owes council $643 093,23 for treated water supllies, which it resells to domestic and commercial entities like Imbizo Barracks and Mzingwane High School, among others.

According to council minutes, Zinwa wrote to the council in September last year requesting the local authority to “consider us when taking into account the issue of writing-off debt incurred by domestic consumers”.

“This is based on water we purchase from you being for resale to both domestic and commercial entities.

“As a result, when the directive was implemented by our organisation, domestic consumers in all stations benefitted, including those from which we purchase water from your authority. Hence we cannot service the debt incurred with you which is proportionate to them,” Zinwa wrote.

However, council’s finance and development committee turned down the request stating that it would not only choke the council financially, but would also set a bad precedent as other government departments would stampede to request cancellation of their debts.

“By acceding to Zinwa Umzingwane’s request, it would set a precedent resulting in a number of government institutions of a similar nature making similar requests.

“Already most government accounts were in credit due to ongoing set-offs and any write off may increase the credit, thereby adversely affecting council’s cashflows,” part of the council minutes reads.

“The observation was that Zinwa Umzingwane was a commercial entity/parastatal which bought water from council and sold it to domestic and non-domestic users in its area of jurisdiction. From council’s perspective, Zinwa was the consumer.

“The ministerial directive targeted domestic consumers therefore acceding to the request could create an undesirable precedent. The director of engineering services observed that Zinwa and Zesa were parastatals and council was indebted to Zesa. Could Zesa write off debts incurred by council?”