By Judith Sibanda
Victoria Falls City Council on Friday began disconnecting water to defaulters whose arrears have exceeded three months as a way to recover about $500 million owed by ratepayers.
In an interview with CITE, the Town Clerk Ronnie Dube said the exercise targets both residential and commercial properties and will see some people going for days or weeks without the precious liquid until they make an effort to settle their debt.
“We are owed over $500 million as of the end of last year,” Dube said.
“The arrears date from 2019 and Covid-19 period, but they have played a negative impact on our support operations because that money has lost value and we have had to find ourselves operating in a negative balance so everyone who owes should expect us at any given time as this will be an ongoing process.”
Dube, however, said his office will welcome those who want to make payment arrangements.
“We are positively appealing to them to be responsible and to make payment arrangements following the right channels,” Dube said.
“All the money that is owed goes towards the service delivery, so if they don’t pay, other residents, in turn, get to suffer more.
“We will be open to those who might want to come and do some labour for us to clear their debts although we had put that on suspension as some bunked and in the end, the authority lost more revenue.”
In the previous years, the council used to hire some defaulting ratepayers to do menial jobs including slashing of grass around town for a fee.
Dube blasted politicians and human rights activists who are against water disconnections.
“I really don’t care about that,” Dube said.
“Instead, they should encourage people to pay as this is all about the council. We are not putting the money in our pockets so that campaign against the exercise should not be an issue to be addressed.”
Meanwhile, Council said revenue halls in Mkhosana and main offices in town will be open this weekend for payments and payment plans.