By Mlondolozi Ndlovu
Harare, August 17, 2016 – THE Chitungwiza Residents Trust (CHITREST) has welcomed plans by the Urban Councils’ Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) to name and shame senior politicians and business executives who have dodged paying their rates while prejudicing local authority of millions in terms of potential revenue for service delivery.
UCAZ chair and current Harare Mayor, Benard Manyenyeni has threatened to reveal names of defaulting big wigs in efforts to force them to honour their obligations to different local authorities from which they benefit from services.
Most urban authorities are also owned millions in terms of outstanding rates even by central government.
The Chitungwiza residents group hailed the UCAZ move, saying this would help ease the burden on most local authorities which are struggling to deliver services to rate payers.
The group said the UCAZ position vindicated those living in most high density areas who are often blamed for failing to pay their dues.
“Although this realisation is coming a bit too late, after the accumulation of huge debts by some bigwigs, it is a progressive move to reduce complacency on the part of some powerful figures in terms of honouring their monthly obligations to local authorities,” CHITREST said.
“Most councils have been misrepresenting facts by claiming that ordinary citizens are the biggest defaulters, whereas the major culprits are government departments, some senior politicians and other business executives as revealed by UCAZ.
“As of March 31 this year, the government owed more than $36 million to local authorities in outstanding water and rates payments resulting in most councils failing to pay their employees’ salaries and negatively affecting the state of service delivery in most areas, particularly urban local authorities,” they said.
Harare City Council is owed over $405 million in unpaid bills while Bulawayo City Council is owed in excess of $117,4 million.
Masvingo City Council, according to documents from UCAZ, was owed in excess of $34 million with revenue collection said to be declining in all major cities. Gweru and Kadoma were owed $37 million and $10 million, respectively.
Most local authorities across the country are struggling to provide services such as water and sewer as they are owed huge amounts by some chefs in government and parastatals.
Much of their revenue is gobbled by salaries leaving very little for service delivery.
“CHITREST therefore urges all responsible citizens including politicians, business executives and government departmental heads to pay their dues so that councils’ revenue inflows improve and increase allocations towards service,” they said.