By Khumbulani Maphosa (Assistant Information Officer)
The Bulawayo City Council has already approached the Central Government with a request to establish a Municipal Court that will assist the Council to track down defaulters on rent and rates payment.
The Council is currently being owed huge sums of money by government institutions, private companies and individual households who have been failing to own up their debts thus robbing the authority of revenue which could be channeled to service delivery and retaining staff.
The Council minutes stated that the government owes the local authority about US$593 000 as of March 2009. Kelvin North Factory shells owe the council about US$40 153. 55 while the non-payment of shop owners licenses have left the council US$9 500 poorer and mobile phone shop operators are owing US$22 025. 59. Other ratepayers and consumers reportedly owe council about US$14 million.
The Council has thus made the above-mentioned resolution after realizing that most of these cases have been reported to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (the national authority with prosecution powers) but with little or no results at all. If the Council can therefore be given the right to have a municipal court it will help it to arrest and prosecute defaulters thus speed up the recovery of huge sums of money that it is owed.
However, according to the Council minutes the issue is yet to be finalized.
The above development comes as a positive one as this Court would make it easier for the Council authorities to deal with defaulting ratepayers. This issue was also raised during a Habakkuk Trust Policy Dialogue meeting that was held between Mzilikazi Residents and the Bulawayo City Council. The idea of a Municipal Court was also viewed as a way of generating income for the Council, as certain minor offences would be dealt with by the City Council.