WASHINGTON DC —
The Chitungwiza municipality is considering writing off 5% of over $50 million debts it is owed in unpaid rates by residents.
The local authority hopes this will encourage residents to pay part of their outstanding bills and help the council raise money for salaries of its workers.
Some Chitungwiza council employees have gone for more than 10 months without salaries as the local authority struggles to collect revenue.
Sources said the proposal was set to be tabled for adoption in a full council meeting this week.
Studio 7 could not reach Chitungwiza mayor Philip Mutoti, who was said to be in a council meeting.
But Chitungwiza Residents Trust spokesman Marvellous Khumalo confirmed to Studio 7 that the council is mulling writing off a percentage of what it is owed by residents.
Khumalo said residents were happy that this will give poor residents a reprieve, but added that they hope the council will come up with long-term solutions.
“On the other hand, however, the slashing of debts in this manner is a piece-meal approach that only addresses the symptoms of a serious problem,” he added.
Last year the Minister of Local Government, Ignatius Chombo, ordered all councils to write-off debts owed by residents in a move seen by critics as an election gimmick.