13 August 2007

Zimbabwe: Gutu District Council to Receive $1bn Grant

Harare — GOVERNMENT has extended a $1 billion grant to the cash-strapped Gutu Rural District Council to improve its cash flow position after the local authority was left heavily exposed by the auctioning of its key assets last year.

The money was made available to the council through the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development which resolved to make a cash injection to save the council operations grinding to a halt.

Service delivery at Mupandawana Growth Point and Chatsworth had been left severely compromised after the auctioning of several vehicles and refuse collection tractors last year to raise money to pay workers $17 million in outstanding salaries backdated to 2005.

Gutu Rural District chief executive officer Mr Edward Mukaratirwa yesterday revealed that the $1 billion grant from Government had gone a long way in cushioning council from a severe cash squeeze.

Mr Mukaratirwa added that his council has since managed to buy a vehicle and repaired a refuse collection tractor with part of the funds availed by Government.

"We received $1 billion from the Government which we have since used to buy office computers and a vehicle while one refuse collection tractor was also repaired using part of the funds and at the moment council operations are slowly returning to normal," said Mr Mukaratirwa.

He also revealed that council had embarked on various income-generating projects aimed at expanding the revenue-generating base in a bid to restore the council's operations to normal.

Among the income-generating projects started by council were the operations of an abattoir at Mupandawana Growth Point which the Gutu RDC said was proving to be the council's cash cow.

Masvingo Provincial Administrator Cde Felix Chikoo said they were working on a number of strategies as part of the on-going efforts to normalise operations of the Gutu RDC following the loss of the income-generating assets in a labour dispute last year.

Gutu RDC last year lost almost its entire vehicle fleet and office equipment, which went under the hammer after its workers dragged it to court for failure to pay $70 million in outstanding salaries.

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