MUTARE- Financially humstrung City of Mutare has applied to the central government seeking borrowing powers to fund capital and machinery expenditure.
Mayor Blessing Thandi, speaking during a press conference organized by a local publisher TellZim Trust, revealed that council will offset the loans through devolution funds.
Thandi did not reveal how much council is seeking to borrow, only stating that internal processes have already been initiated to get the borrowing powers.
“Council is struggling to meet service delivery needs due to a depleted and unreliable fleet, compromising refuse collection, as two refuse compactors functional while the other two are not operational.
“So we are seeking to have our borrowing powers back to fund key capitalisation projects.
“When we have these borrowing powers we will use devolutions funds to pay, as they are periodically released by the government,” said Thandi.
Council has already utilised devolution funds to finance the refurbishment of Sakubva stadium and Mutare Infectious Diseases Hospital (MIDH) as well as to repair local schools.
Devolution funds have been ring-fenced by government to fund projects under four clusters namely health, education, recreation and water and sanitation.
Thandi said the downside of devolution funds has been under utilisation as funds are not remitted timely, compromising work schedules.
He urged government to speed up the finalisation of the devolution legislation to set up the Provincial Councils and operational modalities for devolved local authorities.
“Access to the devolution funds are a challenge as the Ministry of Finance which handles the acquittals does not release funds on time.
“We also hope the Provincial Council will be finalised by the coming act and this should be sped up for the proper usage of funds disbursed to local authorities,” he said.
Council is also considering hiring a senior executive to run a Business Investment unit within the city, a proposal to be factored into the 2022 budget.
Thandi revealed that council will appoint a consultant to advise and bouquet the prospective business investments in the city.
“The local authority is entirely subsisting on rates, which is not sustainable within the macro economic situation within the country.
“High unemployment and emergence of informal sector council has also reduced our revenue base and we have also considered a tourism and hospitality investment to boost revenue streams,” said Thandi.
Mutare city management has irked the ire of environmentalists, residents and stakeholders over it’s intention to lease Dangamvura mountain to a Chinese quarry miner, Freestone Mine Pvt (Ltd) for a US$7500,00 annual lease fee.
In defense council remains adamant that the quarry mine, sited less that two hundred meters from a water pipeline will not affect the adjacent water and sanitation project.
Residents have since petitioned council, forcing the miner to halt developments at the site as they are in violation of the Environmental legislation which demands mandatory consultations.