Michael Magoronga Midlands Correspondent
Kwekwe City Council is owed $50 million in unpaid rates by individuals, companies and schools, leaving the local authority struggling to deliver basic services.
Among the biggest debtors are Ziscosteel which owes $15 million, Redcliff Municipality which owes $3,7 million and Lancashire Steel while ordinary people owe $12 million.
Presenting 2020 budget proposals to ward development coordinators, Kwekwe City Council’s director of finance, Mrs Rejoice Maweni ,said the local authority had been struggling to buy critical things like water treatment chemicals.
“Council business has been literally crippled by lack of cooperation by the ratepayers and companies. We are finding it difficult to break even as prices continue soaring under the hyperinflationary environment,” she said.
Mrs Maweni said Redcliff Municipality had not been paying for water but they could not cut supplies on humanitarian grounds.
She, however, commended some debtors like Government and Zimasco who were making an effort to clear their debts.
“I think Zimasco is now up to date. Government is the one that is paying off our ZESA bill of about $18 million, so we are grateful to such stakeholders who make an effort.
“We also have some ratepayers who are coming in with payment plans and settling their debts,” she said.
The unsustainable high budget and current account deficit had been impacting negatively on council operations.
Under the 2020 budget proposal, tariffs would be hiked for the first quarter with the possibility of a review in the second quarter.
“Given the hyperinflationary environment, we will propose tariffs for the first quarter of 2020 before we review them in the second quarter if the need arises. This will help us to stay afloat,” she said.
Kwekwe City is seeking to hike water tariffs to $10,50 for high-density consumers and $11,50 for low-density residents up from $2,70.
The local authority is also seeking to peg refuse fees at $30 and $35 for high and low-density suburbs, up from $9 and $10 respectively.
Sewer charges are going up to $50 and $60 for high- and low-density areas, respectively, up from $10 across the board.