KWEKWE City Council is struggling to pay salaries and wages as well as statutory fees because ratepayers are not paying their bills, an official has said.
City treasurer Rejoice Maweni told councillors at a recent full council meeting that the local authority was failing to pay workers on time because debtors, chief among NewZimsteel, were failing to pay the local authority.
NewZimsteel alone owes Kwekwe nearly $13 million.
Maweni said salaries were gobbling 63% of council’s revenue instead of the budgeted 30%.
According to a government directive, service delivery should account for 70% of the operating expenditure and salaries should account for 30%.
During budget consultations, councillor Weston Masiya accused then acting treasurer Morris Mutema of cooking figures to ensure that the budget is approved by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo.
“This vindicates my point that the figures in the budget are cooked because how do we find ourselves above 30% when we did not employ anyone and have since cut on overtime allowances?” he said.
In March, council collected revenue of $873 547 and spent $600 690 on its salaries and wages bill leaving less than $200 000 for service delivery and other expenses.
The local authority currently owes the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority $279 653 in value added tax and the electricity bill is at over $7 million.
Meanwhile, at the same full council meeting, management tabled a request to buy three brand new vehicles estimated to cost $200 000.
Masiya told the meeting that it did not make sense that a council that was failing to pay salaries and wages and had its property attached over a $7 000 debt was mulling the purchase of vehicles for management.
“I just don’t get it how you can come here and tell us you want to buy vehicles for management when council property is being attached over $7 000 and we are failing to even pay workers,” he said.
“Let us settle these issues first before buying cars.”
Council, however, resolved it would buy a twin cab for its treasurer who is currently using her own vehicle since joining the local authority last year.