GWERU City Council has reportedly accumulated an electricity bill of over $5 million which it is failing to service following a sharp drop in revenues.
The power bill, according to a top council manager who spoke on condition of anonymity, had remained unpaid over the past five years as the local authority’s revenue base took a nose dive since the introduction of the foreign currency regime in 2009.
The local authority is struggling to pay workers outstanding salaries against a background of accruing debts owed to the municipality by residents and government institutions.
Gweru is owed $25 million by defaulting ratepayers and last year had to engage debt collectors in a bid to recover the money.
However, council reversed the decision to take defaulters to lawyers after a series of protests.
“We owe Zesa $5 million and that figure has been accumulating over the last five years,” the official said.
“As council we are faced with serious financial challenges and the best way has been to engage the power utility in coming up with a payment plan.”
In 2013, Zesa switched off power at council’s works yard near Kudzanai Bus Terminus for three weeks in a bid to force the council to pay up the bill which then stood at $2 million.
Mayor Hamutendi Kombayi could not be reached for comment.