KWEKWE– Councillors here are markedly divided over the $4 million debt in unpaid water charges which Redcliff Municipality owes to Kwekwe city council amidst sensational revelations that the latter have since taken litigation measures in a bid to recover the skyrocketed debt.
Speaking during a heated full council meeting held Monday this week, Kwekwe Mayor Angeline Kasipo said council should be compassionate and stop ‘nailing’ Redcliff municipality through the engagement of lawyers to recover the perennial debt.
Kasipo said taking Redcliff Municipality to the courts will likely result in other companies which they also owe huge debts taking the same legal route against Kwekwe city council.
According to Kasipo, the decision by council management to take legal measures against Redcliff was influenced by a resolution that was passed by the previous council. She contended that council management should have held in-house consultations before ‘acting upon a resolution of the previous council’.
“We currently owe ZESA around $18 million and we also owe ZINWA millions in unpaid debts. The precedence we are setting by nailing Redcliff will certainly result in our creditors also taking us to the courts because we owe them as well”, said Kasipo.
“The problem that we made is that the decision to engage the lawyers was resolved by the previous council and it was wiser for management to consult with members of the current council before taking any measures. We should agree as council and as a collective”, she said.
However, Ward 9 Councillor, McLean Nyamucherera said there was need for the matter to be put to finality, adding that nothing was amiss with the engagement of lawyers by Kwekwe city council to recover the Redcliff debt. Nyamucherera also claimed that the debt which Kwekwe owes ZESA accrued because of the power output used to pump the water from the main water-works plant in Kwekwe to the debatably defunct Ziscosteel in Redcliff.
“You must remember that we were at one time sued by ZINWA over their debt and we cannot spare Redcliff, certainly. They have the money because their residents are paying the bills. The move by council management is the only alternative which will enable us to recover our money from them”, he said.
The Redcliff debt soared following the demise of steel giant, Ziscosteel a few years back. In the past, Kwekwe city used to avail water to Zisco and the latter would then avail the water to Redcliff. Following the infamous fall of Zisco, Redcliff inherited the Zisco debt and the two local authorities devised a payment plan which latter crumbled.