CASH-strapped Kwekwe City Council is struggling to settle a Zesa debt which has ballooned to $111 million.
The power utility has slapped the local authority with an ultimatum to offset the debt, or risk being cut off.
Speaking during a full council meeting recently, Mayor Councillor Angeline Kasipo said the local authority was yet to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 induced lockdown which has resulted in dwindling cash in-flows.
“As it is, we are only collecting about 42 percent of the targeted income and it has become a challenge for us to offer services effectively. As a result, we have been failing to settle the Zesa debt hence it has ballooned to this figure. They have written to us giving us an ultimatum to pay or else we risk being cut off,”
said Cllr Kasipo.
She said power was critical for the pumping of water from the Kwekwe Water Works to the residents and companies hence the local authority’s decision to pull all stops to ensure the bill is settled.
If cut off, the move may also affect the smooth flow of business in Kwekwe, a mining and industrial hub.
Cllr Kasipo said the local authority was engaging debtors, chief among them Redcliff Municipality as it seeks to boost its coffers.
“We also have debtors who owe us a lot and we are trying to engage them so that they can help us out in this situation. As for Redcliff, we are in this together because if we are cut off, they also suffer because we supply them with water,”
Redcliff owes Kwekwe $45 million, Government institutions a total of $23 million and Zisco $16 million.
Cllr Kasipo told a portfolio committee on local government that they were facing challenges with Government institutions.
“We are having problems with Government companies and Zisco whose debt was taken over by the Government. We are kindly asking your committee to intervene because we are suffering. I know there might be challenges but we need to help each other out,”
Recently the city has been disconnecting water from defaulting residents in a desperate bid to raise the much-needed money.
The local authority has also urged those with outstanding bills to approach the authorities and come up with payment plans.