Government must assume 2013 pre-election debt write off

BY WILLIAM MILASI

Kwekwe City Council has called on government to assume the 2013 pre-election write off debt in the 2019 budget so as to enable the local authority to effectively function.

Viewed as a campaigning gimmick the 2013 pre-election debt write off by then President Robert Mugabe’s government on residents has had a far reaching consequences on councils.

Then Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo directed councils nationwide to write off all accumulated water bills, unit tax, rentals, fees and levies outstanding from February 2009 to June 2013.

The debt forgiveness amounting to $2 billion Chombo said was going to enable residents to start on a new slate.

Local authorities contend that the write off have crippled their operations and are instead calling for treasury in the 2019 budget to include the debt.

“The residents’ debt write off, of 2013 has impacted negatively on the operations of our council. The money was included in the council’s budgeting process and it negatively affected us,” Maweni said.

The City’s Treasury Chief told the Parliamentary Finance Committee that government must include the 2013 debt write off in its budgeting.

“We call upon the government to include in its budget the 2013 debt write off by government. The move really hurt councils operations and we call on government to at least consider assuming the debt in its 2019 budgetary process,” she said.

Meanwhile, Kwekwe has expressed hope that government will also start to settle Zisco Steel’s debt in 2019.

“We expect government to budget for the Zisco debt in its 2019 budget. We plead with government to start settling part of the debt next year,” Maweni said.

Government assumed the former integrated steel works giant debt to the tune of $17 million.

The debt assumption was part of government’s efforts to attract investment and help revive the comatose parastatal.

The situation has greatly affected the moribund Redcliff Municipality which recently raised alarm over the council’s insolvency if the Zisco debt was to be written off.

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