Chombo’s election gimmick

EDITOR - The Minister of Local Government, Ignatius Chombo, has issued a directive to the 92 rural and urban councils to write off debts accrued between February 2009 and June 30 2013.The total amount involved is a mind-blowing $2 billion. In normal circumstances such a move would be applauded and appreciated for the relief it provides to ratepayers who are struggling in a largely informal economy characterized by low wages and high unemployment.


Caution is however required before praising the Minister for such gracious efforts. This debt forgiveness denies Harare City Council $ 350m and Bulawayo City Council $42m. In short the directive has major ramifications on the rural and urban councils that are currently struggling to provide essential services. Service delivery still leaves a lot to be desired as reflected by poor refuse collection, potholes on the roads, poor water and sanitary conditions, non-existent street lighting and struggling medical facilities. Debt forgiveness could win Zanu (PF) votes but how do the councils make ends meet when denied taxes and levies that are their lifeblood?

The directive is short-sighted, badly thought out, geared towards buying votes and will worsen the situation once votes are cast on 31 July. It’s Zanu (PF)’s attempt to steal the election from MDC, and is typical of how they conducts their business. The graveyard is littered with parastatals that are a direct result of the party’s mismanagement and populist moves at the expense of proper business management. In my view the Minister should have been ploughing more funds into councils to improve service delivery rather than denying them the revenues due to them when they are on their knees. Residents might celebrate but this directive will come back to haunt them in the not-too-distant future. It is my hope that voters read between the lines and not cast their votes carelessly or sell their souls. As much as the minister or the rest of the party can deny it the directive is shameless vote-buying gimmick without taking into account the consequences. – Simon Nyapokoto, by email

Post published in: Letters to the Editor

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