MUTARE- City fathers and management are convening a first of its kind State of the City Address expected to address the municipality’s rising debt, service delivery and Dangamvura pipeline among other key issues, residents have been demanding answers on.
Mayor Councilor Blessing Tandi is expected to update stakeholders on the city’s performance as Civic Centre affairs take centre stage in anticipation of the appointment of a new Town Clerk to replace the late Joshua Maligwa.
The issue of the council rising debt, the Dangamvura water pipeline, Sakubva Urban Renewal project update are also expected to be addressed in the inaugural State of the City Address.
Mutare City spokesperson Spren Mutiwi recently confirmed that the debt has more than doubled since February, when the city creditors owed ZWL$400 million in unpaid bills by residents, businesses and government.
He said legacy debt challenges have also worsened the situation with the debt rising 123,75% to ZWL$895 since the beginning of the year.
“Right now we are owed ZWL$895 million in unpaid rates. We have people who have not settled their bills since 2008,” said Mutiwi.
This rising debt is indicative of the current administrative failings superintendent by the underfire acting Town Clerk Dr Anthony Mutara, who was recently nabbed by the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission (ZACC) on abuse of office charges.
Council has also hiked rates 400% sparked outcry from ratepayers, as residents accuse management of prioritising executive perks at the expense of service delivery.
This has been exacerbated by the recent acquisition of managerial vehicles at a cost of US$320,000 at a time service delivery has not been up to the expectations of ratepayers.
Council management is also pursuing a cost recovery model and has intensified its recapitalising programme under the Mutare Urban Renewal project- which is also facing financing challenges.
In a statement of assurance to residents, council says it is replenishing its old service vehicle fleet through targeted and phased procurement of service delivery vehicles across all departments.
“Five brand new vehicles were delivered and these will enhance service delivery and reduce the turnaround in addressing key service delivery issues. Very soon we are expecting a grader.
“We are moving towards restoring sound and effective service delivery,” reads a statement by the COM.
Mutare has further introduced an online payment platform for bill payment and statement enquiries, to boost council revenue which has dwindled following the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic.