THE Gweru City Council has stopped its water disconnection exercise on defaulting residents and immediately started reconnecting the affected households, an official said yesterday. The city’s deputy director of finance, Mr Owen Masimba, said the council was, however, waiting for a formal communication from the Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development, Dr Ignatius Chombo to write-off residents’ debts on rates and water bills.
“We got a directive from the town clerk’s office that we should stop the water disconnection exercise following the announcement by the Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development that all councils should write-off residents’ rates and water bills. We have since dispatched our teams to go and restore water to all the residents whose residential properties had been disconnected for non-payment of water bills and rates while we still wait for a formal directive by the Minister,” said Mr Masimba.
He said the city council was owed millions of dollars in unpaid rates and water bills by the residents.
“At the moment we are struggling to deliver quality service because some of the residents have not been servicing their rates and water accounts since 2009. The directive to write off the over $20 million debt owed to the council by residents will only worsen the situation,” he said.
Dr Chombo announced on Monday that all the 92 rural and urban councils should, with immediate effect, write off debts accrued by residents in rates and other bills between February 2009 and 30 June this year.
Gweru City Council, however, immediately embarked on a massive water disconnection exercise on defaulting residential properties between Tuesday and Wednesday, causing an outcry among residents who accused the local authority of defying a Government directive.