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Gweru financial crisis depens

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GWERU City Council is finding it hard to finance its operations due to non-payment of bills by residents, government, industry and commerce, a situation that is threatening service delivery and meeting future salary obligations, a senior official has revealed.

Stephen Chadenga
OWN CORRESPONDENT

The official — a senior manager at council — who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the situation at council was getting dire as ratepayers were failing to settle their debts.

“If nothing is done about our debtors as a matter of urgency, the situation might get out of control as council gets financially crippled by the day,” the official said.

Last Friday, workers threatened to strike if they were not paid their outstanding salaries.

The employees who staged a sit-in last Wednesday said council had not paid them for the past three months.

Gweru mayor Hamutendi Kombayi said council was owed $30 million in unpaid rates, water, refuse and sewage bills by ratepayers, adding that this was heavily impacting on service delivery as well as paying wages.

“We are owed $30 million and honestly given such a debt, it is difficult to finance our operations,” he said.

“But we will do our best and I understand the grade one to seven workers will be paid by the end of this week as we move to other grades.”

Gweru workers had threatened to go on strike over unpaid salaries, accusing the council of prioritising trinkets at the expense of paying them. The workers have since put their industrial action on hold after the local authority promised to start paying them this week.

Kombayi said it was disheartening that some residents had gone for several months without settling their water bills.

The mayor said Gweru was better compared to other cities in paying its workers, urging them not to be in “panic mode” as the situation at the municipality was reflective of the macro-economic environment obtaining in the country.

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