Locadia Mavhudzi Midlands Correspondent
Cash-strapped Kwekwe City Council has called on Government to honour its pledge to pay the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Zisco)’s outstanding water and utility charges amounting to $15 million in order to enable the municipality to improve on service delivery.
Speaking at a recent devolution workshop for local authorities organised by the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD), Kwekwe Mayor Councillor Angeline Kasipo said the steel manufacturing giant owed the local authority $15 million which, if settled, will go a long way in improving service delivery for Kwekwe residents.
“As an urban local authority we are currently failing to provide water religiously to the residents and the business community because we are relying on old infrastructure where we end up losing more water through leaks.
‘‘Our biggest debtor is Zisco where an accumulative $15 million is now owed. Government has since taken over the Zisco debt but we have not yet received any funds though we continue supplying water to the company. We are appealing for Government to honour this debt so that the authority can be financially sound,” she said.
Cllr Kasipo said the authority was optimistic that devolution will empower local authorities to implement income-generating projects.
“While we appreciate Government devolution grants as a starting point to enable local authorities to develop, we do not want to remain as a baby of the national Government. Our view is that there is need for legislative and institutional reforms that will give us powers to come up with taxes that are earmarked for local development,” she said.
She also bemoaned the slow disbursement of Zinara funds to local authorities saying Kwekwe City Council has so far received $160 000 out of the allocated $1,2 million for this year. “Regarding road maintenance, our biggest setback is the untimely disbursement of Zinara funds. So far we have received $160 000 which will enable us to do minimal road rehabilitation.”
Meanwhile, the devolution conference was attended by rural and local authorities in Midlands Province who spoke on the opportunities and challenges they anticipate in the devolution agenda.