Joseph Madzimure and Columbus MabikaHarare City Council, after failing to bring service delivery to the doorstep of the residents, has begged Government through the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Professor Mthuli Ncube to intervene in its quest to clear $140 million debt legacy it owes the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), which has accrued due to penalties.
In an interview, Harare Mayor Councillor Herbert Gomba said he has engaged Minister Ncube to order Zimra to remove the penalties.
“I held several meetings with Minister Mthuli and I begged him to remove those penalties if we are to stabilise and service the city since they are a problem to service delivery,” he said.
“My appeal is for the removal of penalties on our legacy debt, which initially amounted to $30 million, but now ZIMRA is seeking for $140 million more as penalties.”
Government yesterday intervened after the city council failed to provide water in Harare, especially in cholera epicentres such as Budiriro and Glen View.
The water woes bedevilling Harare were largely a result of mismanagement following a series of grants that have been abused in the past, including the US$144 million grant from China.
Government released $37,4 million, including foreign currency, towards interventions to improve water access and waste water treatment in Harare.
The move comes as a relief to residents as the corruption-riddled MDC-led Harare Municipality struggles to provide clean water.
The funds from Government are earmarked for the completion of Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Plant, overhaul of the water distribution network, sewer reticulation system upgrade and installation of 8 000 residential prepaid metres.
Clr Gomba said the debt was suffocating their operations. “Currently, we are staggering $600 000 per week towards servicing the Zimra debt,” he said.
“Since the MDC took over control of the city council, service delivery has deteriorated in Harare. Yes, Government released $37,4 million after we wrote to our parent ministry informing them about the urgency of the matter and the need to allow for government to invest into the procurement and production of water,” he said.
“My appeal to the Minister of Finance is to help us with finance to buy three months’ chemicals to stabilise the situation.”
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Deputy Minister Jennifer Mhlanga said the Government will monitor the operations of the city council to ensure residents have access to clean water.
“Access to clean water is not only a basic need, but a necessity to sustain all forms of life,” she said. “It is quite often easily forgotten how completely we depend on it.
“Water scarcity and lack of access to water by residents becomes a central issue, and as Government we are obliged to assist councils to ensure that our residents and rate payers obtain services.”
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