GOVERNMENT departments, the Zimbabwe National Army, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service and Zimbabwe Republic Police camps owe the Masvingo City Council more than $10 million in unpaid rates and water.
Speaking at a residents’ meeting on Thursday, Masvingo mayor Hubert Fidze said council was incapacitated and unable to improve service delivery because of the huge debts by government departments and security forces’ unserviced debts.
The army’s 4 Brigade and 4,1 Infantry Battalion barracks owe the local authority about $8 million, police camps $3 million while other government departments have a debt of more than $5 million, according to Fidze.
Fidze was in a dilemma as he did not know how to make them pay up. “We are facing a dilemma when it comes to making them pay. We cannot just go there and disconnect water. We do not have that capacity to do so and it is risky,” he said.
Residents in attendance, however, fumed saying council was treating government departments with kid gloves while defaulting ordinary residents were being disconnected.
A resident at the meeting said: “There are other government workers who are not staying in barracks, but they pay their bills. What is so special with those in the barracks?
“You disconnect our water supplies when we have small debts, but you cannot do that to government departments with such huge amounts; it is unfair. Do you also want us to set dogs on you when you come to disconnect water at our homes?”
The Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers’ Association said council had to find a way of making government departments and security forces pay up insisting that the local authority should stop disconnecting defaulting residents if it was failing to disconnect government departments that owe enormous amounts.