21 June 2014

Zimbabwe: Fed Up Banks Shut Doors On Gwanda Council

THE GWANDA municipality has fallen on hard times, having been blacklisted by its service providers who are being owed a combined $8 million by the town.

Mayor Knowledge Ndlovu has also admitted the beleaguered Matebeleland South capital is sitting on a salary backlog of three months, a gigantic $1 million in monetary terms.

Because of the debt crisis, the town cannot bank or borrow with any banking institution in the country, a situation that has grossly narrowed its ever diminishing options.

"The council has been garnished through all banks and we cannot bank with any institution in the country," Ndlovu said.

"We are failing to pay for all other services because every cent we get goes to salaries yet we are still behind in terms of paying our staff and this is compromising service delivery."

Gwanda owes $6 million to Zinwa, $188,000 to Zesa, $62,000 to TelOne, Zimra $524,000 and $96,000 to NSSA.

The town also owes $130,000 to the Local Authorities Pension Fund (LAPF), $21,000 to the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef), $28,000 to the Standard Development Levy, $91,000 in bank overdrafts and $28,000 to its pensioners.

Ndlovu was however dismayed with the continued failure by rate payers to honour their own combined debt of $1,743,000 million to the council.

Of the amount, $1 million is owed by residents while the remaining $743,111 is by estate debtors.

The local authority collects monthly revenue of $160,000 and was labouring under a monthly wage bill of $250,000 which the mayor described as abnormal.

"Council needs to correct that anomaly because we can't afford to continue paying such salaries. It's an abnormal situation," Ndlovu said.

Government policy is that councils should direct at least 70 percent of their revenue towards service delivery and 30 percent to wages. But Gwanda has an inverse ratio of a whopping 75 percent being channelled towards labour.

As if its troubles with outsiders were not enough, workers have also turned the heat on the authority and now plan on securing a court order that would see them attach council property over the three months outstanding salaries.

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