Zanu-PF fulfils poll promises


Cde Chombo

Felex Share Herald Reporter
PEOPLE from all walks of life, who had been weighed down by rates and rental arrears, have started benefiting from Zanu-PF’s decision to cancel bills with many jubilant families receiving revised water bills this month. A few days before the harmonised elections, Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister Ignatius Chombo directed the country’s 92 local authorities to scrap all debts accrued by residents from February 2009 to June 30, 2013.

The move — aimed at releasing millions of dollars locked in insurmountable debts — came in the wake of the realisation that sanctions-induced hardships had destroyed the livelihoods of many, condemning them into a debt spiral from which they were unlikely to emerge, and which put many at the risk of losing their houses.

However, MDC-T which dominated most urban councils and was accused of levying astronomical amounts and its civil society allies opposed the move claiming it was a campaign political gimmick.

Several local authorities have since implemented the directive with Harare and Chitungwiza among the major local authorities that have heeded the directive.

Harare has written off US$330 million while Chitungwiza scrapped over US$40 million.
Jubilant residents interviewed by The Herald in Harare and Chitungwiza yesterday said it was clear Zanu-PF had the people’s interests at heart.
Many confessed that they were sceptical until they received revised, manageable bills this month.

“At first we dismissed the announcement as the usual political statements to woo our votes,” said Mbuya Rosemary Kajauchire of Rugare.
“I owed council close to US$1 000 but as you can see only US$60 is reflecting on my bill for the month of July and August. This is a promise that has been fulfilled and it is our hope that Government continues being sensitive to out plight,” she said.

Ambuya Kujauchire said without writing off the debt, there was no way she was going to clear it.
“The money that I get as a pensioner is little and how was I going to clear the debt? It means, the bill would have continued to balloon and who knows probably my house would have been taken away,” she said with a smile.

Several people, including widows and orphans, countrywide, had their houses repossessed by councils with some being grabbed by corrupt MDC-T councillors over outstanding debts in the last four years.

President Mugabe has since assured the victims of such acts that they would get their houses back.
Another Harare resident, Mr Saul Beans who owed Harare City Council US$2 180 commended President Mugabe for walking his talk.
He said the huge bills they had were unjustified.

“Obviously the directive came from the President (Mugabe) and I thank him for taking such a bold decision,” he said.
“We can now start afresh and I do not see ourselves being in such debts again. We will try to be up to date so that council is able to carry out its work.”

Others said the move had shamed MDC-T which saw the scrapping of debts as impossible.
Harare Resident Trust co-ordinator Mr Precious Shumba said residents should now honour their financial obligations.

He said what was left was for the city to work on its billing system.
“The current billing system is open to manipulation by City treasury officials and other senior managers who have unhindered access to the system’s servers,” he said.

“It is the billing system in place that has resulted in most residents failing to settle their bills in the past, where bills continue to rise, even when attempts are made to clear them. The HRT is expecting the new council to be more transparent in its handling of public affairs, and to be more accountable when it comes to dealing with public finances.”

Local, Government, Rural and Urban Development secretary Mr Killian Mupingo urged residents to be responsible.
The Government, he said, found it appropriate to scrap the debts as it was evident that they would never be settled.

“They expect good service delivery and we also expect them to pay now that their arrears have been cleared,” he said.
“Government heard their challenges and addressed them and we now want to move forward with all residents paying for services rendered. The challenges were ushered in by the sanctions and this is one way to cushion our people from the embargo.”

Britain, the US and their allies, at the behest of the MDC formations, imposed economic sanctions on Zimbabwe that cut the country’s lines of credit from all multi-lateral lending institutions.

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  • Chaitemura

    Perhaps the president can also do something towards the vicims of Murambatsvina!

  • Emmanuel

    Thanks honourable minister for your noble idea.There was no way we were going to manage to pay our shows that you are people oriented.We are greatly indebted to you but here in Chinhoyi they have just cancelled half of the debt they are saying that you only advised them to clear rates and leave the water debt.Can someone from the responsible authorities explain to Chinhoyi residents because we are now confused everytime we read about other jubilant consumers who have been cleared of all their dues.

    • Sue Ellen

      I hope this joy comes to Chinhoyi soon my brother, am happy than ever. I had for the past year opted not to open the council bill, which contributed to my blood pressure ailment, which I doubt will leave my system soon. I have no water at my property which I purchased in 2008, I dug a man made well for building but the last bill was 3,028/usd. Coupled with interest, water (I don’t even have a tap) and other rates my bill was amounting to US$75/month in waterfalls. My prayers have been answered and I thank the Government for the sensitive move, whether its politically driven, it has reduced a heavy load on the residents and we have benefited.

  • Progressive Zimbabwean

    It is an interesting development, which should be followed by a moratorium on debts owed by individuals to financial institutions, particularly civil servants and those employed in the private sector. Whilst it is known that funds for on lending to individuals comes at a cost to banks, most of these institutions, amongst them big ones, have been demanding a pound of flesh from hapless individuals some of whom are now dying of debt related stress. What I think is required is obviously not the writing off of the capital sum but the rationalisation of the interest rates and the withdrawal of of pending court cases to facilitate renegotiating of these deals. It is common knowledge that banks were charging very high rates starting of establishment fees of at least 5% per annum and interest rates of as much as between 25% and 70% per annum. I know some bankers on this platform will come hard on me trying to justify this but I think a little bit of introspection is required before proxies of these seemingly greedy corporate citizens respond. We need to re-energize this economy and one way is to remove the debt burden on our citizens both corporate and individuals to enable them to focus or channel the money towards various important social needs. Government needs to step in very quickly on this matter.

    • Chale

      Hamusi maakunyanyoda zvamahara here nhai Progress? Lets have sustainable developmental policies not just populist actions

  • Resident

    Any refunds from council for those who have been paying their bills?

    • Hacha Ndizvo

      No chance. And there are others with ability to pay who are also going to unfairly benefit. landlords also are in a rich pickings because they have been exacting payment for these rates from lodgers but were not remitting the money to council. The write off is good for those who cannot afford to part with the money but the real beneficiaries are the well off landlords and rich people while the majority who are lodgers have already paid. In other words landlords made money from this misguided moratorium

  • chailingoma

    Zanu PF Pr dept how can we be told the same thing a million times as fresh news

  • Classroom

    How about Zesa cde Minister

  • Mukuru

    Thank you once again Mr. man but what about employment? Can we all become civil servants? we need jobs. What are the measures taken so far? We are sick and tired of this word SANCTIONS. Please revise rates. $60 for that Chitungwiza old woman is too much in two months. You have won the elections now what we want is progress. Money is here in this country lets share it to the people and improve infrastructure. Subsidize electricity and water so that our bills will be favorable and we can enjoy our independence.

  • Muzukuru

    I hope government will cushion the same councils with certain amounts to assist them to meet their immediate obligations. people may celebrate now BUT the future holding consequences. Are some these councils not the same who were struggling to buy water chemicals and deal with sewerage systems? God forbid cholera comes back again and we start to blame sanctions instead of bad policies. Who are the major beneficiaries on scrapping of these bills? Surely other people are living at the expense of others. The true and living God is watching, a man reaps what he sows, this principle shall always stand.

  • mwana wevhu

    Why is this process happenning in harare and areas nearby whilst marginalising bulawayo. We havent heard any news of bulawayo bills being scrapped. Whats the problem Mr Chombo. Do you have any issues with byo.

    • Seke Mutema

      You should direct that question to your councillors who you voted into office. The directive from the Minister was quite clear – it did not segregate any local authority.

  • Karzai

    Chemahara mushana vanhuwe. The right thing is that people should have jobs that pay a living wage enough to pay for ZESA and water bills.

  • Zimbo1

    This just shows Zanu-pf is ready to do right and serve the people in a manner that benefits everyone irrespective of political, social, religion etc.. status. Now this is a good move that everyone should applaud and support by paying any revised bills coming from this month so that we can give the institutions responsible for service delivery a good chance to deliver without excuses. As for those who have been paying up I think the government can give them a 25% discount for a year as a thank you and to make everyone a winner.

    • Hacha Ndizvo

      ZANU PF has not done anything to benefit anyone. What I know for sure is that all those who are lodgers have already paid this money to their landlords who in turn used the money for their own purposes. Is it fair for lodgers to fund their landlords through this ill-thought dept write off. How many lodgers were behind in their payment for water and rates????

  • tony

    Ini zvangu zvakashanda. I was waiting for elections before paying. This time around, I will wait for 2018, before paying my rates. If ever I will pay these rates!

  • Africa_need_no_link_to_USA_EU

    Zanu-pf and President Mugabe are true heroes for this very human action.