Chombo vote gimmick cost Byo $49m; council still battling impact

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

THE Zanu PF government’s populist decision ordering local authorities to write-off residents’ debts ahead of 2013 elections continues to adversely impact the operations of Bulawayo City Council.

Delivering his valedictory message to mark the end of council tenure ahead of the general elections set for either July or August this year, Bulawayo mayor, Martin Moyo said council lost $49 million following the controversial government’s directive.

“Some of the adverse policies which heavily impacted our operations was the government’s directive through then local government minister Ignatius Chombo for all local authorities to write–off debts accrued to residents in July 2013.

“To this end, an amount of $49 million was written off, negatively affecting council’s ability to provide services, whilst residents welcomed the move,” said the mayor.

Councillor Moyo said Chombo’s decision undermined council’s ability to collect future revenues and ensure efficient service delivery.

“The bulk of council’s revenue is derived from water, rates, solid waste management and sewerage fees,” he said.

“The billed income averaged between $6,9 million to $7,5 million a month while other miscellaneous income account for about 0, 80 million a month.”

Councillor Moyo said the local authority has been collecting an average of $5 million per month against an average requirement of $7, 5 million to effectively provide services.

Council is owned $176 million by residents as at February this year. In turn, the local authority owes its creditors $173 million.

In his address, the mayor also expressed concern over the increasing number of council guards who have been attacked by vendors in the city.

“The illegal vendors are, at times violent, as a number of security guards have been attacked and injured during the course of their operations.

“Some have been arrested following spurious allegations made by the vendors,” said Moyo.