CITY of Harare (CoH) has clashed with government over debt- payment issues, amid reports that the Finance ministry has availed ZW$36.4 million towards alleviation of water and sanitation challenges in the capital.
The ministry, through a statement issued to the press on Thursday, said council was failing to resolve the water and sanitation challenges it was facing, hence the deployment of the ZW37,4 million facility.
Meanwhile, Harare mayor Herbert Gomba scoffed at the funding, saying government owed council tens of millions of dollars in service arrears.
In an exclusive interview with Zim Morning Post, Gomba indicated that CoH was owed by government, while it in turn also owed government money, with the debt continuously accruing interest, in the process sucking life out of the city.
“Government owes us ZW$26million, and we owe them ZW$30 million through taxes but because of penalties on our debt, they now want $170 million,” Gomba said.
“From the ZW$30million, we have to come up with ZW$170 million and this is choking the same city which is expected to give services.
“However, on what they owe us, we do not have the powers to penalise them, yet what we owe them can increase if not paid for over a certain period.”
Gomba added that the Finance ministry was injecting money into wrong priority areas, as there was immediate need for the building of dams to ensure that the capital had adequate water supply sources.
“The issue is not about government throwing a little money here and there; it is about building Kunzvi, Musami and Muda dams. This matter has been on the government’s desk for the past 35 years.
“Yes, we need to get a few millions of dollars to function, but what is more important are dams and new sewer treatment facilities for Harare, Chitungwiza and Norton. The minister must know that most urban centres do not have water due to these factors.”
Gomba also said “It’s not fair for government not to cancel our Zimra debt yet in 2013 they made a heinous decision to cancel debt on our revenue sources.”
“It’s also unfair to say we have failed yet they have choked our abilities through debt and claiming $3 million each month through Zimra. If they could forgive debt on farmers why not council which provide services to Zimbabweans.”
Funds disbursed by the Finance ministry are aimed at the rehabilitation of Morton Jaffray filters and clarifiers.
The money is also meant for the installation of 8 000 domestic household meters, repair of burst pipes, upgrading of 8km sewer mains in Glen View and Budiriro, including the repairing of Crowborough sewage works.