Army pays $1 million towards ballooning city council water bill

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Government is believed to have splashed $8 million on the purchase of weapons from Israel.

MASVINGO-  In an effort to clear their ballooning water bill of over $11 million to the city council, the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) 4 Brigade has paid nearly a million dollars towards their bill, a move applauded by the city fathers as the security forces top the list of heavy debtors.

Town Clerk Adolf Gusha confirmed that towards the end of 2018, the army paid a total of $987 000 as part of efforts to clear the arrears that have been accumulating for years. This is the first time in recent history that the local unit of the army has paid cash to settle its water bills.

Being one of the biggest council debtors, ZNA water bills have never been paid in cash and in full, with desperate council settling for debt swaps negotiated with government through the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra).

“We are delighted by the payment that the army made. The money will go a long way towards the improvement of service delivery in our city and we would like to encourage other government departments and private companies that owe us to make efforts to clear their debts so that we can make our city better. We thank the army for leading the way,” said Gusha.

The city council has been under immense pressure from residents who have been forwarding complaints over the ballooning water bill of the military without any effort to settle it.

Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers Alliance (Murra) spokesperson Godfrey Mtimba said the move by the military is highly welcome because their bill was crippling service delivery.

“Yes, they owe many millions but at least they have made an effort. We hope they will keep on paying until they settle their bill.

“Let also this be an example to other security arms who owe the council millions of dollars to come and make their payments because the services they get are not for free,” said Mtimba.

The police owes the city council over $4 million with their prison counterparts following with over $2 million.

In his 2019 budget, Finance minister Prof Mthuli Ncube allocated the Defence and War Veterans ministry $546.9 million; the fourth largest allocation behind Primary and Secondary Education, Agriculture and Health.