THE cash-strapped Zvishavane Town Council has blame the failure by residents to pay their bills for the poor service delivery in the sprawling mining town.
Town secretay Tinoda Mukutu said the local authority was owed over $20 million by ratepayers with Shabanie Mine alone owing $10 million.
Mukutu said the council has a number of projects meant to develop the town, but they were being hampered by lack of funds as their debtors are failing to pay reasonable amounts to clear outstanding bills.
“We are very ambitious as a council to improve all service delivery by eliminating potholes and restoring all roads and lighting, among other things, but we are being let down by our residents and ratepayers who to some extent are not even committed to reducing their bills,” he said.
“As you can see, with the little that we have, we managed to rehabilitate gravel roads and we want to replace them with tarred roads, but that cannot be achieved as we are getting less than 5% commitment from our debtors.”
Mukutu revealed that the coming in of the Midlands State University (MSU) to rent Shabanie Mine’s office premises was a noble idea as it was going to lessen the ailing asbestos mine’s debt from accruing.
“I appreciate Shabanie’s idea of leasing its premises to MSU as it will mitigate its debt. It will arrest the escalation of its current $10 million debt and the university authorities have asked us to connect them water directly to their campus. That may assist the council in making more income when it commences operations,” Mukutu said.
Council’s financial director George Jongoni revealed that Shabanie Mine owed $10 081 932, Zesa Holdings $8 865 937, government departments $4 026 655, Mimosa $19 182, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation’s Sabi Gold Mine $44 374 while residents owe $2 396 497.
Jongoni said the council was keen to improve its sewer reticulation as it was expanding the town through development of stands in Eastlea Extension, Mabhula and Emthonjeni, but the projects were moving at a snail’s pace due to financial challenges.
“We ought to extend the size of our town through development of stands, both commercial and residential, from Mabhula (east of Zvishavane) to Emthonjeni (west), but we are very incapacitated by lack of adequate funds, hence it is my plea to our ratepayers to honour their debts,” Jongoni said.
Zvishavane Residents and Ratepayers’ Association chairperson Peter Mudzviti said while council may lament lack of resources, there were small things it could do to show its commitment at little or no cost such as naming of streets in Zvishavane’s oldest settlement Mandava and Makwasha, among other areas.
“One would surely wonder why up to this day we do not have street names in Mandava. When a relative wants to visit, you have to tell them a known feature near your residence,” he said.
“The traffic lights are less than 12 months, but they are already malfunctioning. Now one wonders what kind of council we have.”