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challenged to inherit rather than cancel debts
Nomalanga Moyo, SW Radio Africa
October 21, 2013
Fixed line operator
TelOne has become the latest company to announce a bill debt relief
for its customers.
on the firm’s Facebook page says the debt relief totalling
$80 million, or $258 per household, is in “response to the
cash-flow challenges facing the market”, and will be effective
further says customers should settle any outstanding “balances
promptly to ensure uninterrupted services”.
This step by
the State-owned firm comes hard on the heels of similar debt relief
initiatives forced on the country’s 92 local authorities just
the July 31st polls.
Said to be aimed
solely at ‘vote-buying’, this move has proved to be
very costly for the country’s major authorities which were
already struggling with poor revenue inflows and subsequently, service
Just last week,
Bulawayo City Council was reportedly facing serious problems paying
salaries and collecting piles of refuse, amid reports that the debt
write off wiped out $46 million in what would have been revenue
for the authority.
The Harare City
Council lost $80 million and has also struggled to pay salaries,
with the capital city dismally failing to supply residents with
clean, potable water, let alone ensuring a regular supply.
issued its debt relief directive, residents and businesses owed
Harare $400 million, while Bulawayo was owed $100 million, all lost
power utility firm the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA)
has announced it’s own debt relief of $170 million, for farmers
Under the ZESA
scheme each household bill would get a $160 reprieve. However, the
Residents Association denounced the move, saying the real beneficiaries
were the politicians, farmers, and businesses who had been consuming
substantial amounts of electricity without paying since 2000.
ZESA announced its relief package, which comes into effect this
month, ratepayers had adopted a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude,
severely crippling revenue collection.
SW Radio Africa Tuesday, political analyst Masimba Kuchera took
a dim view of what he said was a lack of accountability on the country’s
the debt relief scheme was an ill thought-out political gimmick
which was plunging the affected companies and municipalities into
He said this
was ‘corruption’ if one considered that the major beneficiaries
from the ZESA debt relief were politicians who were the major consumers
of electricity on their farms and businesses.
questioned the wisdom of encouraging residents not to honour their
obligations, which he said encouraged unaccountability and irresponsibility.
the government should be doing is creating jobs and more industries,
luring more investors so that people can earn and honour their obligations.”
that does not involve the government assuming ownership of the debt
is no relief at all because one way or another someone will pay,
and we are beginning to see the ratepayers bearing the cost as local
authorities and parastatals fail to deliver,” Kuchera said.
In other sectors,
youths in Chipinge are reported to be demanding
a stake at the Chisumbanje Ethanol Plant, a venture partly owned
by Green Fuels and the State.
Among the demands,
the youths want Green Fuel to contract them as out-growers, train
them in various aspects of the company’s operations and ensure
that 75% of the work-force is made up of local youths.
of the Platform
for Youth Development Trust, said these are not new demands
but a reminder for the company to honour its pre-election promises.
are issues which had been discussed and agreed on during the unity
government. But this new administration has started shifting of
goalposts, with the local MP at the forefront of attempts to sideline
the youths,” Madhuku said.
Green Fuel has a social responsibility to offer training to the
youths, and denied that their demands were akin to the “smash-and-grab”
approach which has become all-too-familiar in Zimbabwe since the
2000 land invasions. The youths’ demands come after Green
Fuel gave war veterans 250 hectares of land.
Billy Rautenbach owns a 49% stake in the ethanol plant through his
companies Macdom and Ratings, while the government owns the remainder.
Mkhululi Moyo slammed what he called the “selfish culture
that has emerged over the past two decades where policies reflect
narrow, sectarian interests with no regard to the consequences on
the whole economy.”
Moyo said the
youths’ demands, which also appear to be veiled threats, “are
an uncomfortable reminder of how the Zanu-PF-led government has
conducted negotiations for stakes in private enterprises over the
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