By Itai Muzondo
MASVINGO – As the public increases pressure on local government authorities to improve service delivery in different local authorities , Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs, Shuvai Mahofa disclosed in a briefing with Minister of Local Governance, Urban and Rural Development Saviour Kasukuwere that her province’s councils are crippled because of the heavy debts they are bound to pay as required by statutory regulations and the provision of salaries.
Figures from the briefing reveal that councils in the province owe up to US$3 303 814 in arrears besides the US$440 640 owed as salaries to their employees burdening them with US$3 744 454 of unpaid debts in the ever worsening economy.
In a briefing statement currently in possession of Radio VOP, Mahofa disclosed that only four out of nine councils in Masvingo are up to date with payments.
“Councils in Masvingo owe millions over statutory obligations and salaries combined. This is excluding Bikita Rural District Council (RDC), Chiredzi RDC, Chivi RDC and Masvingo RDC who have their payments up to date.
“These councils are currently collecting between 35%-80% of their total revenue respectively,” said Mahofa.
“Chiredzi Town Council owes US$236 640 in salaries and an alarming $1 012 305.02 towards statutory regulation. Gutu RDC and Zaka RDC owe nothing to their employees though they have pending statutory obligations amounting to US$279 298 and US$310 711.08 respectively.
“Masvingo City Council owes US$150 000 to its workers while it owes US$1.7 million towards statutory obligations in the form of arrears to pension funds. Mwenezi owes its workers US$27 000 juxtaposed to a US$15 000 towards statutory obligations,” read the briefing statement.
Meanwhile, most of the struggling councils have turned to willing investors to improve service delivery with Masvingo City Council and Chiredzi town council reportedly courting private investors to refurbish the dilapidated roads.
Masvingo City Council is currently eying a loan from the Chinese government to tackle critical service delivery works whereas Zaka RDC is persuing a bid to raise money through the sale of stands.