Govt must take over $2bln debt created by Chombo’s 2013 election gimmick

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By Kwekwe Correspondent

GOVERNMENT should take over the US$2 billion council debt which the ruling Zanu PF party ordered local authorities to write-off ahead of the 2013 elections, Kwekwe City Council has suggested.

In a move widely seen as a vote buying gimmick by the ruling Zanu PF party, then local government minister Ignatius Chombo ordered councils around the country to write off debts owed by residents from 2009.

Councils have complained that the decision cost them $2 billion in revenue and adversely impacted their finances and service delivery.

Speaking at a recent parliamentary pre-budget meeting in Kwekwe, city treasurer Rejoice Maweni said; “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.”

She suggested that government considers taking over the debt.

“We call upon the government to include in its budget the 2013 debt write off by government,” said Maweni.

“The move really hurt council operations and we call on government to at least consider assuming the debt in its 2019 budgetary process,” she said.

Meanwhile, Kwekwe also expressed hope that government will soon start settling Ziscosteel’s debt.

The defunct steelmaker owes Kwekwe US$17 million.

“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 took over the company’s debts as part of efforts aimed at attracting new investors to revive the firm.