Debt cancellation: Chombo punishes Gweru

Outgoing Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo has written to the local city council widening the scope of ratepayers’ debts that it has been instructed to write-off. This is seen as a punishment for the city fathers who initially refused to comply with the order to cancel debts - given by President Robert Mugabe during his campaign trail.


They said the council would collapse if the $8 million owed by residents was written off. In response to the resistance, Chombo has ordered that on top of writing off outstanding bills for water and sewage disposal dating back to 2009, the city council should also cancel all debts for development levies, unit tax, rentals, licenses and refuse charges owed to it by scores of rate payers from different sections of the economy.

Part of the directive contained in a letter in possession of The Zimbabwean, directed to Town Clerk Daniel Matau and copied to Provincial Administrator Cecilia Chitiyo, reads: “It has become apparent that the economy has not been operating optimally and in the process relentlessly unleashing severe hardships on the people. Thus, from 2009, ratepayers have not been able to meet their obligations.

“For avoidance of doubt, this directive is meant to cushion the ratepayers from the severe effects of the economic challenges experienced during the period in question.” Matau was said to be out of office when sought for comment and was unreachable on his mobile phone. Sources at town house said Chombo’s directive would mean the last nail in the coffin of Gweru City Council. “The council has been operating on a deficit since last year. We have also been facing challenges in purchasing water chemicals following the withdrawal of Unicef assistance. Other challenges include paying workers,” said the source.

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