Harare mayor says government defaulting on rate payment

By Caleb Chikwawawa and Ashywyne Vambe

Harare mayor Jacob Mafume has identified government as one of the biggest defaulters in terms of rate payment but maintained his council will not take treasury to court for any failure to meet its financial indebtedness to the local authority.

Mafume was addressing the media in Harare on Tuesday on issues concerning the running of the troubled authority.

The opposition politician said council was being owed a lot of money by its debts.

Among them is government.

Mafume said his council shall not make any attempt to take central government to court in a bid to recover its dues.

“Debtors to the council are a cause for concern. Ironically, the government is one of our biggest debtors, and we appreciate that the minister is aware of this issue.

“As you know, in this country, councils are among the few remaining service providers that operate on a post-service basis.

“We provide the service first, and then you pay for it. We are still the service provider that gives you the service and then waits to be paid later. This has created a problem. The issue of debt needs to be addressed.”

Mafume said they will try to persuade government debtors and parastatals through the Minister of Local Government and Public Works, Winston Chitando to clear their indebtedness to the local authority.

“We will compile a list of debtors and present it to the minister. Since he has acknowledged the issue, we will kindly ask him to raise it during cabinet meetings,” he said.

“He is a capable minister with private sector experience. I am confident that since they are aware of the problems, we can use persuasion to find a solution.

“Our options are limited when it comes to the government. We cannot take each other to court. There are many things we rely on them for.”

Mafume also lamented lack of manpower within council corridors as well as the city’s endless water woes.

He cited the suspension of 25 employees within the city’s finance department have been suspended for alleged acts of financial impropriety.

The city’s first resident also said rates being paid in local currency were being eroded by inflation adding that it was best to buy gold coins so as to preserve the value of the money.

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