|Icod Zim service delivery meeting in Chiredzi|
Chiredzi Town Council has accumulated more than $2.5 million in debt from its various service providers since the beginning of the Covid-19 induced lockdown, it has been learnt.
The debt is owed to such stakeholders as Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe (THZ); Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) and Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa).
Due to that difficult state of its finances, the local authority has now gone for two months without paying salaries.
This was revealed at a recent service delivery indaba organised by the Institute for Community Development in Zimbabwe (ICOD Zimbabwe) in collaboration with the Public Rights Forum (PIRF) and United Chiredzi Residents and Ratepayers Association (UCHIRRA).
In his address, Chiredzi Town Council Chairperson Gibson Hwende said council operations had been severely affected, with revenue collection having dropped from 56 percent before the lockdown to five percent currently.
“Our debt ballooned as a result of a sharp drop in revenue collection and we now have salary arrears for the months of May and June. Our refuse truck is also currently down, and we are failing to procure the required spare parts,” said Hwende.
From the council’s $52 million budget for 2020, $433 333 was supposed to be collected from residents and rate payers monthly, but only 56 percent ($242 666.48) of that figure was managed in the first month.
The figure dropped to $21 666.50 during the ensuing months after the lockdown was pronounced.
UCHIRRA advocacy officer, Bernard Dhachi hailed the local authority for improving water reticulation during the lockdown.
“There has been a notable improvement on water supply this lockdown regardless of the challenges being faced and we appreciate council for that. Most residents are, however, now in a more difficult financial position as the informal trading sector is closed. They can’t pay their bills and poverty has increased,” said Dhachi.
Chiredzi West Member of Parliament (MP) Farai Musikavanhu said it was unfortunate that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) were the most affected by the lockdown.