SERVICE delivery in Masvingo has been hamstrung by cash shortages stemming from a shrinking revenue base and the $34 million owed by residents and government departments in unpaid bills, mayor Hubert Fidze has said.
BY TATENDA CHITAGU
Speaking at a state-of-service-delivery meeting jointly organised by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) and Masvingo Residents and Ratepayers Alliance (MURRA) last week, Fidze said the local authority was also failing to service its debts because of the shrinking revenue base.
“Over the past two years, oustanding money from bills and rates not paid by residents has accrued to $4,9 million, while government departments and businesses owe us $29,5 million.
“In total it amounts to $34 million. This is a challenge for us as it affects quality service delivery. We also have to pay bills to our suppliers and other stakeholders. At the moment, we owe a landline service provider $3 million,” he said.
He said recovering the money from government departments had been a challenge, leaving the local authority to engage debt-swap deals.
Last year, the Zimbabwe National Army’s 4 Infantry Brigade settled its $556 000 debt to council through swapping the debt owed by council to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra).
Fidze said the city was aiming to attain top status and compete with other clean cities in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region like Windhoek in Namibia, while expressing willingness to continue earnest engagements with residents in the process.
Speaking during the same meeting, ZimRights national director, Okay Machisa, urged councillors to be mindful of their role in protecting citizens’ rights, urging residents to also actively participate in issues of community importance.
Residents took council to task over refuse collections, erratic water supplies and illegal dumping sites.
MURRA co-ordinator Anozivaishe Muguti said while council was owed that much, it should, however, not use non-payment as a smokescreen for failure to deliver meaningful services because it has other revenue streams.