Harare Mayor Councillor Herbert Gomba is seeking a meeting with the new Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) board and Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube over the $171 million which council owes the tax collector.
The City of Harare initially owed ZIMRA $20 million before the debt ballooned to $171 million because of non-payment due to reduced revenue inflows.
Clr Gomba said they hoped Zimra would offer them relief by removing penalties that have accrued over the years.
"We are making efforts to meet with the Zimra board and the Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube through our parent ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing," he said.
"We think it is an opportunity for Zimra to save local authorities that are choking in debt from collapse by removing the penalty and leaving us with our legacy debts.
"We are highly indebted and we really need to get out of the hole. We have implemented some cost containment measures that we hope will assist us to mitigate the effects of the challenges we are facing," he said. Speaking at a full council meeting held last week the city's acting finance director Mr Stan Ndemera said ZIMRA had proposed a payment plan where council pays $4,2 million every month towards the $171 million, which he said was a bit harsh since they already had monthly obligations of $1,5 million to the same institution.
"We wrote back to ZIMRA putting things into context to say we are definitely not in a position to meet that payment plan, the least that we can do is to continue paying our current obligations and $500 000 towards our legacy debt so that we continue to operate, besides they also owe others and are failing to pay their dues," said Mr Ndemera.