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Writing Off Residents' Water Bills, Related Debts to Cripple Cities

  • Loirdham Moyo

Bulawayo central business district

Bulawayo central business district

The Mutare Municipality says the government should come up with a viable plan to ensure that local authorities will not collapse and fail to pay employees due to cash-flow problems when they cancel debts running into millions of dollars as directed by Minister Ignatius Chombo.

Mutare City Town Clerk Obert Muzawazi is skeptical about the directive as the local authority has been failing to pay employees on time.

Muzawazi said indications are that the debt cancellation will devastate the council as its revenue base remains too low following years of Zimbabwe’s economic decline.

Muzawazi said the council is not defying the directive but “would be happier if the government can come in and assist.”

Residents on the other hand received the news of the debt write-off with mixed feelings. Desmond Mwedzi said the move would be fine if it benefitted everyone.

But he noted that the city of Mutare, saddled with a $26 million debt and six months’ unpaid salaries for employees, cannot afford to implement Mr. Chombo’s directive.

President Robert Mugabe campaigned for re-election last month saying, among other things, the country’s 92 local authorities should write-off residents’ debts.

Residents are set to start benefiting from the directive by the end of this month.