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» » » ‘Budget surplus should pay Gvt debts to local authorities’

                                             Godfrey Mtimba
Clayton Shereni
MASVINGO - Minister of Finance Professor Mthuli Ncube recently announced that the country has recorded a budget surplus of almost RTGS$500 million in the first quarter of the year 2019, further claiming that the country was on the right path to recovery.
After the announcement by Treasury that public accounts had recorded a successful half a billion RTGS dollar surplus, local residents and the civil society have called upon the government to use the purported surplus to settle its debts with various local authorities in the country.
These sentiments were expressed during a Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers Alliance (Murra)-organized service delivery-assessment workshop.
The workshop was organised in partnership with the Local Governance Community and Capacity Building and Development Trust (LGCCBDT).
Speaking during the workshop, one resident told city fathers to engage seek the settling of the debts owed by various government departments.
“We have heard the Minister of Finance saying government has recorded a surplus so we urge our council to engage the government to pay their debts using that surplus money. The council should not just make efforts to get their money and disconnect water when it comes to residents but leaving those who owe big debts,” said a resident.
City of Masvingo Mayor Collen Maboke said the city had approached some arms of the government who were forthcoming but said it was hard for them to disconnect water supply at these institutions.
“We approached almost every government institution which owe us and some of them paid partially but it is hard for us to disconnect services at their premises,” said Maboke.
Murra spokesperson, Godfrey Mtimba said they have always encouraged council to confront their biggest debtor not the struggling residents who owe them small amounts.
“We have always encouraged city fathers to focus their efforts in engaging government to pay its debts rather than all their energy targeting and victimizing residents whose debts are very small.
“Government has the biggest debt through its institutions and should just pay so that residents are not forced to subsidies it as they are the ones paying,” said Mtimba.
Many institutions including the Army, Police, prison and Education owe Masvingo City council almost 30 million dollars in unpaid water bills.
The government has been widely criticized for not paying its debts to various service providers including local authorities and the country’s power supplier the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authorities (Zesa).

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