Govt turns down councils’ payment platform request

Clr Manyenyeni

Clr Manyenyeni

Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Government has turned down a request by cash-strapped urban local authorities to use the Zesa pre-paid platform to collect revenues.

Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) president and Harare mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni had requested for a new system where water and electricity bills are jointly paid at Zesa offices.

The envisaged system was expected to help recover debts from defaulting residents, who owe local authorities more than $1 billion.

At a meeting held at Town House on Tuesday last week, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo told the UCAZ president that it was not possible for the city to use that option.

Cllr Manyenyeni confirmed the development last week.

“The new minister feels it is ceding authority,” he said. “For now, we might get to do a trial in one ward (Harare) if the Zesa board agrees.”

Local Government, Public Works and National Housing permanent secretary Mr George Magosvongwe said Minister Moyo was best placed to comment on the reason why Government declined the proposal.

“It is a direct delivery from him (Minister Moyo),” he said. “It is better for him to comment on the issue. We are, however, looking at various options to improve revenue collection, which balances the interests of local authorities and councils.”

Minister Moyo could not be reached for comment.

Last year, Cllr Manyenyeni said the proposal had the potential to improve municipal finances and facilitate better service delivery.

“Right now the message to residents is pay up,” he said then.

“We expect those who are making noises against pre-paid water meters (resident associations) to be louder about the payment of bills.

“If there was greater compliance, we would not be wasting money in finding alternative solutions. We are looking for these solutions because of defaults in payment and ballooning debtor’s books. Residents should pay and get the required services.”

Harare is owed more than $700 million, with the city now employing various strategies, including evictions, to those who are leasing council properties.

Council has also resorted to issuing summons to defaulters in an attempt to recover outstanding debts.

Mutare City Council is now resorting to debt collectors to recover more than $41 million from ratepayers.

Chitungwiza ratepayers owe the local authority close to $60 million in unpaid rates and bills, while other local authorities are also owed millions by ratepayers.

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  • Truthhurts!

    Kana MDC ichitadza kutonga Harare, ko-kuzoti Zw yacho?

    • walterk

      Taura hako, how can they be so lazy to develop their own system

  • eliah

    It was a good option for as long as there were going to factor the water debts into the system Zesa style and residents pay in small amounts whilst we await for the Pre-Paid Waters Meters as opposed to the shaddy deal involving Welshman Debt Colletctors and for the record everyone crying for pre-paid water meters are paid up account holders and those who are in the business of lettting out properties.
    However if the new Minister turned down the request by non-executive Mayor what are his plans for debt recovery because it is one thing to quash a proposal and another to come up with an alternative, this Moyo man maybe too soft for this job and he needs to tell residents of urban cities what is his 100day plan otherwise we do not know which way he is dragging the conucils to.

  • Shality 2000

    The Council should first reduce the rates to below $10 per months inline with regional standards. I have stayed in SA, Botswana and Namibia. Council rates are not as exorbitant as ours. FYI, in Botswana- Gaborone , a family of 5 pays council bills (water, refuse, sewage etc) for about $5 a months and the water will be coming out of the tap everyday. So I don’t understand how our bills end up going above $20 in high density surburbs and $40 in medium and no water coming from tapes. Its absurd. The council should revise its rates inline with regional standards and people will afford not to force people to pay exorbitant rates so they can give each other high salaries.