Council names, shames debtors

BY MOSES MATENGA

THE ruling Zanu PF party is one of City of Harare’s biggest debtors and owes the MDC-dominated local authority more than $1,2 million in unpaid rates, NewsDay has learnt.

Other debtors who owe the local authority huge amounts are the Walter Magaya-led Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries Church, which is yet to pay close to $400 million, the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport ($101 250 000), the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), Norton Town Council, Chitungwiza Urban Council and the National Railways of Zimbabwe — whose total debt adds up to more than $2 million.

A debtors’ list seen by NewsDay shows that Zanu PF’s holding company M&S Syndicate (Pvt) Limited, owed the local authority $1 189 768,30 in unpaid water bills at the 15-storey building located in the capital.

Zanu PF national secretary for administration Obert Mpofu said just like any other utility, the party was bound to have debts and urged council to “remind the party” of its obligations.

“They should approach the party. Like any other utility, we have to meet our obligations, but if we are not reminded about that, it is difficult to do anything. We are just users of their services like any other utility and if they want to be paid, they should approach us,” he said.

Ironically, Zanu PF has been at the forefront of accusing the local authority of failing to provide services that include potable water, quality roads and refuse collection, among others.

Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga recently castigated the MDC-dominated council of failure, saying it had done nothing for the people since coming into office.

His comments last week drew the ire of the MDC, who accused the Vice-President of being out of touch with reality.

Among the 500 debtors is Chitungwiza Town Council, which owes the local authority $414 292 856,77, with Norton Town Council coming third, owing the local authority close to $4 million.
Government entities which include NSSA and NRZ and Telecel are also owing the city millions of dollars.

Other firms that owe the local authority include Zupco, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Crest Breeders, Irvine’s Day-Old Chicks, Simon Muzenda Housing Co-operative and Caps (Pvt) Ltd.

The District Development Fund is also part of the debtors, together with the Forestry Commission, Amalgamated Motor Corporation, TN Harlequin Luxaire t/a TN Bank Mall Nelson Mandela.

Harare is owed more than $1 billion by business, government and residents and has been battling to deliver services in the city due to the ballooning debt.

Ahead of the 2013 harmonised elections and as part Zanu PF’s political campaign strategy, the then President, the late Robert Mugabe, instructed then Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo to write off millions of dollars in debt owed to local authorities.

The move was widely viewed as populist and crippled the country’s local authorities, which have since failed to recover from that heavy knock.